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MACMILLAN AND

CO., Limited

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY


NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO

DALLAS

SAN FRANCISCO
CO.

THE MACMILLAN

OF CANADA,

Ltd.

TORONTO

THE

TRIBES

AND CASTES
OF THE

CENTRAL PROVINCES OF INDIA


BY

R. V.

RUSSELL

OF THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE SUPERINTKNUENT OF ETHNOGRAPHY, CENTRAL PROVINCES

ASSISTED BY

RAI

BAHADUR HlRA LAL


EXTRA ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER

PUBLISHED UNDER THE ORDERS OF THE CENTRAL PROVINCES ADMINISTRATION

IN

FOUR VOLUMES
VOL.
II

MACMILLAN AND
ST.
I

CO.,

LIMITED

MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON


9
1

COPYRIGHT

CONTENTS OF VOLUME
Provinces in Alphabetical Order
The
articles wJiich are considered to be

II

Articles on Castes and Trip.es of the Central

of most getieral interest

vi

CONTENTS
PAGE

Baxj.\ra {Pack-carrier)
Barai {Betel-vi/ie groivcr

162

and seller)
199

Barhai {Carpe7iter)

{Maker of leaf-plates) Basdewa {Cattle-dealer and


Bari

202
religious mendica7it)

204
208

Basor {Bamboo-iuorker)

Bedar {Soldier and public

service)

212
215

Beldar {Digger and navvy)


Beria
(

Vagabond gipsy)
tribe)
.

220
225

Bhaina {Forest

Bhamta {Criminal
Bharia {Forest

tribe

and

labourers)

234
238
242

Bharbhunja {Grain-parcher)
tribe)
.

Bhat {Bard and genealogist)


Bhatra {Forest
tribe)
.

251 271

BhIl

(Forest tribe)

278

Bhilala {Landotuner arid cultiimtor)


Bhishti
(

293 298
301

IVater-man)

Bhoyar {Cultivator)
Bhuiya {Forest
Bhulia
(

tribe)

305

IVeaver)
tribe)
.

319
322

Bhunjia {Forest

Binjhwar {Cultivator)
Bishnoi {Cultivator)

329
337
345
351

Bohra {Trader)

Brahman

{Priest)

SUBCASTES OF BRAHMAN
Ahivasi.
Jijhotia.

Maharashtra.
Maithil.

Naramdeo.
Sanadhya.
Sarwaria.

Kanaujia, Kanyakubja.

Mahvi.

Khedawal.

Nagar.

Utkal.

Chadar

Village watcJanari

and

labourer-)

400
403

Cha.U\k {Tanner
Chasa {Cultivator)

ajui labourer)

424
labourer)

Chauhan

Village

watchman and
calico-printer)

427

ChhTpa {Dyer and

429
432

ChitAri {Painter)

CONTENTS
Chitrakathi
CvLic\\\

vii
\'m;v.

(/Vi//f/;r .v/z<9tt';/w;/)

{'Trader a?id sliopkcepcr)

-438 .440
.

Vits\\\vx {Village ivatchviaii

and
.

labourer)
.

444

Daharia {Culth'ator)
Vil\\\<g\

{Landowner and
(

Dangri

Vegetable-groiver)

Darzi
Dhakar

{Tailor)

Dewar {Beggar and musician)


Dhangar
{Shep/ierd)

{Illegitimate, cultivator)
. .

Dhanuk {Bowman,
Dhanwar

labourer)

{Forest tribe)

...... .... ..... .....


.

cultivator')
.

-453 .457
-4*^3
466

.472
477

.480
484
488
502
5
1

DhImar
Dhoba

{Fisherman, water-carrier, and house/iold servant)


tribe, cultivator)
. . . . .

{Forest

Dhobi {Wasker?nan)
Dhuri {Grain-parcher)
Dunial {Cultivator)

Fakir {Beligious mendicant)

.519 .527 -53 -537

ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOLUME
31.

Aghori mendicant

......
as

II
I'AGE

32.

Ahirs decorated with cowries for the Stick Dance at Diwali

18

33.

Image of Krishna
attendant deities

Murhdhar

or

the flute-player, with

34.

Ahir dancers

in

Diwali costume

32 72 88

35.

Pinjara cleaning cotton


village,

36. Baiga
37.

Balaghat District

Hindu mendicants with sect-marks.


Pilgrims carrying water of the river Nerbudda

94

38. Anchorite sitting on iron nails

39. 40.

Coloured Plate
the forehead

Examples of Tilaks

.....
or sect-marks
.

worn on
102
1

41.
42.

Group of Marwari Bania women

12

Image

of the

god Ganpati carried

in

procession

116
is

43.

The elephant-headed god


rat,

Ganpati,
little

His conveyance

which can be seen as a

blob between his feet


at the

120
126 128

44.

Mud

images made and worshipped

Holi festival

45. Bania's shop


46. 47.
48. 49.
50.

Banjara

women

with the singh or horn


.

184
188

Group of Banjara women

Basors making baskets of bamboo

210

Bhat with

his piitla or doll

256
278 282

Group of Bhlls
famous dacoit
at

51. Tantia Bhll, a


52.

Group of Bohras

Burhanpur (Nimar)
his

346

53. 54. 55.

Brahman worshipping Brahman bathing


Brahman

household gods

380
384 390

party

Pujaris or priests

ILL USTRA TIONS


56.

Group of Maratha Brahman men

392 396
398
.

57.
5 8.

Group

of

Naramdeo Brahman women


in leather

Group of Naramdeo Brahman men

59.

Chamars tanning and working


Chamars
cutting leather and

416
418
430
502

60.

making shoes

61. ChhTpa or cahco-printer at


62.
63. 64.

work

Dhlmar
Group

or fisherman's hut
in

Fishermen

dug-outs or hollowed

ti'ee

trunks

506
538

of Gurujwale Fakirs

PRONUNCIATION
a has the sound of u
a
in but or

murmur.

PART

11

ARTICLES ON CASTES AND TRIBES


AGARIA FAKIR

VOL.

II

AGARIA
Agfaria.^

of the

Gond

tribe.

of iron-smelting

who arc an offshoot The Agarias have adopted the profession and form a separate caste. They numbered
small Dravidian caste,

persons in 191 i and live on the Maikal range in the Mandla, Raipur and Bilaspur Districts, The name probably signifies a worker with d^- or fire. An Agaria subcaste of Lohars also exists, many of whom are quite probably Gonds, but they are not included in the Similar Dravidian castes of Agarias are to regular caste. The Agarias are quite be found in Mirzapur and Bengal. distinct from the Agharia cultivating caste of the Uriya The Raipur Agarias still intermarry with the country. Rawanbansi Gonds of the District. The Agarias think that their caste has existed from the beginning of the world, and that the first Agaria made the ploughshare with which the The caste has two first bullocks furrowed the primeval soil. Patharia and the Khuntia /\garias. endogamous divisions, the The Patharias place a stone on the mouth of the bellows to fix them in the ground for smelting, while the Khuntias use a peg. The two subcastes do not even take water from one another. Their exogamous sections have generally the same names as those of the Gonds, as Sonwani, Dhurua, Tekam, Markam, Uika, Purtai, Marai, and others. A few names of Hindi origin are also found, as Ahindwar, Ranchirai and Rathoria, which show that some Hindus have probably Ahindwar or Aindwar been amalgamated with the caste. and Ranchirai mean a fish and a bird respectively in Hindi, while Rathoria is a gotra both of Rajputs and Telis. The Gond names are probably also those of animals, plants or other objects, but their meaning has now generally been

9500

1 This article is compiled from papers by Mr. Mir Padshah, Tahsildar

of Bilaspur, and Kanhya Lai, clerk in the Gazetteer office. 3

4
forgotten.

AGARIA
Tekam among
or ieka
is

PART

teak

tree.

sept found

several of the Dravidian tribes,

Sonwani is a and the

A person of the Sonwani sept is always chosen to perform the ceremony of purification and readmission into caste of persons temporarily excommunicated. His duty often consists in pouring on such a person a little
lower Hindu castes.

water in which gold has been placed to make it holy, and hence the name is considered to mean Sonapani or goldThe Agarias do not know the meanings of their water. section names and therefore have no totemistic observances. But they consider that all persons belonging to one gotra
are descended from a

common

ancestor,

the gotra

is

therefore prohibited.

As among

and marriage within the Gonds, first


the father of a boy

cousins are allowed to marry.


2.

Mar-

Marriage
father of the
'

is

usually adult.

When

riage.

wishes to arrange
girl.

a marriage he sends emissaries to the

They open the proceedings by saying, If So-and-so has come to partake of your stale food.' ^
girl

the father of the


'

approves he gives his consent by saying,


foot, I

He

has come on

receive
to the
his

him on
girl's

my

head.'

The
is is

boy's father then repairs


respectfully received

house, where he

and

feet are

washed.

He

then

asked to take a drink of plain water, which

method of
girl

is a humble him a meal. After this, presents for the are sent by a party accompanied by tomtom players,

offering

and a date
usual
is

is

fixed for the marriage, which, contrary to the


rule,

may take place in the rains. The reason perhaps because iron-smelting is not carried on during the rains and the Agarias therefore have no work to do. i&w
Hindu

days before the wedding the bride-price is paid, which consists of 5 seers each of ui'ad and til and a sum of Rs. 4 to Rs. i 2. The marriage is held on any Monday, Tuesday or Friday, no further trouble being taken to select an auspicious day.
In order that they

may

not forget the date fixed, the fathers


tie

of the parties each take a piece of thread in which they a knot for every day intervening between the date

when

the

marriage day

is

settled

and the day

itself,

and they then


all

untie one knot for every day.

Previous to the marriage

the village gods are propitiated by being anointed with


1

oil

BCisi or rice boiled in water the previous day.

II

MARRIAGE
is

by the Baiga or
the ovens

also

by the

bride's

village priest. The first clod of earth for dug by the Baiga, and received in her cloth mother as a mark of respect. The usual

After the brideprocedure is adopted in the marriage. groom's arrival his teeth are cleaned with tooth-sticks, and the bride's sister tries to push sdj leaves into his mouth, a proceeding which he prevents by holding his fan in front of
his face.

For doing this the girl is given a small present. A paili^ measure of rice is filled alternately by the bride and bridegroom twelve times, the other upsetting it each
time after
rice
it is

filled.

At the marriage

feast, in

addition to

mutton curry and cakes of urad pulse fried in oil are provided. Urad is held in great respect, and is always given as a food at ceremonial feasts and to honoured guests. The greater part of the marriage ceremony is performed a second time at the bridegroom's house. Finally, the decorations of the marriage-shed and the palmleaf crowns of the bride and bridegroom are thrown into The bride and bridegroom go into the water, and a tank. each in turn hides a jar under water, which the other must find. They then bathe, change their clothes, and go back

and

pulse,

to the bridegroom's

house, the bride carrying the jar

filled

with water on her head.

The boy

is

furnished with a

bow

and arrows and has


shoulder.
if

to shoot at a stuffed deer over the girl's

After each shot she gives him a little sugar, and he does not hit the deer in three shots he must pay After the marriage the 4 annas to the sazvdsa or page. bridegroom does not visit his wife for a month in order to They then live ascertain whether she is already pregnant.
together.
for the

The marriage expenses usually amount to Rs. i 5 bridegroom's father and Rs. 40 for the bride's father.
his

wife,

Sometimes the bridegroom serves and he is then not required

father-in-law for his

to

pay anything

for the

marriage, the period of service being three years.

If the

couple anticipate the ceremony, however, they must leave


the house, and then are recalled by the bride's parents, and

readmitted into caste on giving a feast, which is in lieu of the marriage ceremony. If they do not comply with the first summons of the parents, the latter finally sever connec'

measure containing about 2^

lbs.

of grain.

AGARTA
Widow marriage is freely permitted, and expected to marry her late husband's younger If she marries brother, especially if he is a bachelor. another man with his consent, the new husband gives him a turban and shoulder-cloth. The children by the first husband Divorce is are made over to his relatives if there are any. permitted for adultery or extravagance or ill-treatment by either party. divorced wife can marry again, but if she absconds with another man without being divorced the latter has to pay Rs. 1 2 to the husband. When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, her mother goes to her taking a new cloth and cakes and a preparation of milk, which is looked on as a luxurious food, and which, it is supposed, will strengthen the child in the After birth the mother is impure for five days. womb. The dead are usually burnt, but children under six whose ears have not been pierced, and persons dying a violent death or from cholera or smallpox are buried. When the
tion with them.

the

widow

is

principal

man

of the family dies, the caste-fellows at the

mourning feast tie a cloth round the head of his successor to show that they acknowledge his new position. They offer water to the dead in the month of Kunwar (SeptemberOctober).

They have a vague belief in a supreme God but do not pay much attention to him. Their family god is Dulha Deo, to whom they offer goats, fowls, cocoanuts and cakes. In the forest tracts they also worship Bura Deo, the chief god

The deity who presides over their profession Loha-Sur, the Iron demon, who is supposed to live in the smelting-kilns, and to whom they offer a black hen. Formerly, it is said, they were accustomed to offer a black cow. They worship their smelting implements on the day of Dasahra and during Phagun, and offer fowls to them. They have little
of the Gonds.
is

faith in medicine,

and

in cases of sickness requisition the aid

of the village sorcerer,

who

ascertains

what deity

is

displeased

with them by moving grain to and fro in a winnowing-fan and naming the village gods in turn. He goes on repeating
the names until his hand slackens or stops at some name, and the offended god is thus indicated. He is then summoned and enters into the body of one of the persons present.

II

OCCUPA TION
his

and explains

reason for being offended with the sick

person, as that he has passed

by the god's shrine without

taking off his shoes, or omitted to


of a fowl or the
deity
like.

make the triennial offering Atonement is then promised and the

on recovery notes the one of a vindictive temper, whose worship must on no account be neglected. The Agarias say that they do not admit outsiders into the caste, but Gonds, Kawars and Ahirs are occasionally allowed to enter it. They refuse to eat monkeys, jackals, crocodiles, lizards, beef and the leavings of others. They eat pork and fowls They take food from the higher and drink liquor copiously. castes and from Gonds and Baigas. Only Bahelias and otlicr impure castes will take food from them. Temporary excommunication from caste is imposed for conviction of a criminal offence, getting maggots in a wound, and killing a cow, a dog or a cat. Permanent excommunication is imposed for adultery or eating with a very low caste. Readmission to caste after temporary exclusion entails a feast, but if the offender is very poor he simply gives a little liquor or even water. The Agarias are usually sunk in poverty, and their
offering made, while the sick person
in

question

as

personal belongings are of the scantiest description, consisting

of a waist-cloth, and perhaps another wisp of cloth for the

head, a brass lota or cup and a few earthen vessels.

Their

women

dress

like

Gond women, and have


This

a few pewter

ornaments.
for

They

are profusely tattooed with representations


is

of flowers, scorpions and other objects.

done merely
s-

ornament.

The

caste

still

follow their traditional occupation of iron-

Occupa-

smelting and also

make

a few agricultural implements.

They

tion.

get their ore from the Maikal range, selecting stones of a dark

They mix i6 lbs. of ore with 15 lbs. of reddish colour. charcoal in the furnace, the blast being produced by a pair
of bellows worked by the feet and conveyed to the furnace

through bamboo tubes

it

is

kept up steadily for four hours.

The

ball of

is then broken down and the molten slag and charcoal is taken out and hammered, and about 3 lbs. of good iron are obtained. With this they make ploughshares, mattocks, axes and sickles. They also move about from village to village with an anvil, a hammer

clay coating of the kiln

AGHARIA
tree,

part

and tongs, and building a small furnace under a and repair iron implements for the villagers.
I.

make

Origin.

Ag'hapia ^ (a corruption of Agaria, meaning one who came from Agra). A cultivating caste belonging to the Sambalpur District^ and adjoining States. They number

27,000 persons in the Raigarh and Sarangarh States and Bilaspur District of the Central Provinces, and are found also in some of the Chota Nagpur States transferred from Bengal.
According to the traditions of the Agharias their forefathers They were accustomed were Rajputs who lived near Agra. to salute the king of Delhi with one hand only and without The king after suffering this for a long bending the head. time determined to punish them for their contumacy, and summoned all the Agharias to appear before him. At the door through which they were to pass to his presence he The haughty fixed a sword at the height of a man's neck. Agharias came to the door, holding their heads high and not seeing the sword, and as a natural consequence they were all But there was one decapitated as they passed through. fixing of the sword and about the Agharia who had heard who thought it better to stay at home, saying that he had some ceremony to perform. When the king heard that there was one Agharia who had not passed through the door, he The Agharia did not sent again, commanding him to come. He therefore wish to go but felt it impossible to decline. sent for a Chamar of his village and besought him to go instead, saying that he would become a Rajput in his death and that he would ever be held in remembrance by the Agharia's descendants. The Chamar consented to sacrifice himself for his master, and going before the king was beheaded at the door. But the Agharia fled south, taking his whole village with him, and came to Chhattisgarh, where each of the families in the village founded a clan of the Agharia caste. And in memory of this, whenever an Agharia makes a libation to his ancestors, he first pours a little water on the ground in honour of the dead Chamar. According to
' This article is mainly compiled from papers by the late Mr. Baikunth Nath Pujari, Extra Assistant Com-

Mnster of the Raigarh English School, and Kanhya Lai, clerk in the Gazetteer
office.
'^

missioner,

Sambalpur; Sitaram, Head

Now

transferred to Bengal.

II

SUBDIVISIONS

another version of the story three brothers of different families escaped and first went to Orissa, where they asked the Gaj[)ati The kin<^ caused two king to employ them as soldiers.
sheaths of swords to be placed before them, and telling them
that one contained a sword and the other a bullock-goad,

asked them to select one and by their choice to determine From one whether they would be soldiers or husbandmen. sheath a haft of gold projected and from the other one of silver. The Agharias pulled out the golden haft and found The point of the golden and that they had chosen the goad.
silver

handles

is

obvious, and the story


it

is

of

some

interest for

the distant resemblance which


caskets in

bears to the choice of the

The Merchant of

Venice.

Condemned,

as they

considered, to drive the plough, the Agharias took off their

sacred threads, which they could no longer wear, and gave

them

to the youngest member of the caste, saying that he should keep them and be their Bhat, and they would support him with contributions of a tenth of the produce of their
fields.

He

assented, and his descendants are the genealogists

of the Agharias and are termed Dashanshi.

The Agharias

claim to be Somvansi Rajputs, a claim which Colonel Dalton " Tall, well-made, with high says their appearance favours.

Aryan

features

and

tawny complexions, they look


tribe."
^

like

Rajputs, though they are more industrious and intelligent

than the generality of the fighting

Owing

to the fact that with the transfer of the

Sambalpur

2.

Sub-

Agharias have ceased to be residents of the Central Provinces, it is unnecessary to


District, a considerable portion of the

divisions.

give the details of their caste organisation at length. the a

They
mixed and

have two subdivisions, the Bad or superior Agharias and


Chhote,
Sarolia
or

Sarwaria,

the

inferior

or

Agharias.
or

will not eat with Further local subdivisions are now in course of formation, as the Ratanpuria, Phuljharia and Raigarhia or those living round Ratanpur, Phuljhar and Raigarh. The caste is said to have 84 gotras

The latter Gaur (Ahir) woman.


even

are a cross between an Agharia

The Bad Agharias


the others.

take water from

or

exogamous

sections, of

which 60 bear the

title

of Patel,

18 that of Naik, and 6 of Chaudhri.


'

The
p.

section

names

Daltou's EtJiiiolog}' of Bengal,

322.

lo

A CHARTA
Sandilya, Kaushik and Bharadwaj
;

part

are very mixed,


gotyas, as

some being those of eponymous Brahman


;

others those

of Rajput septs, as Karchhul

while others are the names of

(pig), Baram (the pipal tree), Kachhapa (tortoise), and a number of other local terms the meaning of which has been forgotten. Each of these sections, however, uses a different mark for brand-

animals and plants, as Barah

Nag

(cobra),

ing cows, which


rear,

it is the religious duty of an Agharia to and though the marks now convey no meaning, they

were

probably originally
In the case of

the

representations
is

of

material

objects.

names whose meaning


in the respect

understood,

traces of

totemism survive

paid to the animal

or

plant by members of the sept which bears its name. This analysis of the structure of the caste shows that it was a very mixed one. Originally consisting perhaps of a nucleus of immigrant Rajputs, the offspring of connections with inferior classes have been assimilated while the story already quoted is probably intended to signify, after the usual Brahmanical fashion, that the pedigree of the Agharias
;

at

some period included a Chamar. Marriage within the exogamous section and also with first cousins is forbidden, though in some places the union of
sister's

son with a brother's daughter


is

is

permitted.

Child

and censure visits a man who allows an unmarried daughter to arrive at adolescence. The bridegroom should always be older than the bride, at any rate by a day. When a betrothal is arranged some ornaments and
marriage
usual,

a cloth bearing the szuastik or lucky


girl.

mark

are sent to the

Marriages are always celebrated during the months of Magh and Phagun, and they are held only once in five or six years, when all children whose matches can be arranged for are married off. This custom is economical, as it saves expenditure on marriage feasts. Colonel Dalton also states
that the Agharias always
their ceremonies,

employ Hindustani Brahmans


and conduct
all

for

and
the

as very few of these are available, they

make
of a

circuits over large areas,

the weddings

Before the marriage house to celebrate the removal of her status of maidenhood. When the bridegroom arrives at the bride's house he touches with his dagger the
locality
is

at

same
the

period.

kid

sacrificed

at

bride's

II

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS

string of mango-lcavcs suspended from the marriage-shed and presents a rupee and a hundred betel-leaves to the bride's

saivdsin

Next day the bridegroom's father or attendant. sends a present of a bracelet and seven small earthen cups She is seated in the open, and seven women to the bride. Water is hold the cups over her head one above the other. each other, the into cup one from above from poured then
being
filled in

turn and the whole finally falling on the bride's

head. This probably symbolises the fertilising action of rain. The bride is then bathed and carried in a basket seven times round the marriage-post, after which she is seated in a chair and seven women place their heads together round her while a male relative winds a thread seven times round the heads

of the

women.

The meaning

of this ceremony

is

obscure.

The bridegroom makes his appearance alone and is seated with the bride, both being dressed in clothes coloured yellow The bridegroom's party follows, and the feet with turmeric. The bride's brother of the couple are washed with milk.
embraces the bridegroom and changes cloths with him. Water is poured over the hands of the couple, the girl's forehead is daubed with vermilion, and a red silk cloth is presented to her and the couple go round the marriage-post. The bride is taken for four days to the husband's house and then returns, and is again sent with the usual gauna No price ceremony, when she is fit for conjugal relations. is usually paid for the bride, and each party spends about Polygamy and widow Rs. lOO on the marriage ceremony.
marriage are generally allowed, the widow being disposed The ceremony at the marriage of a of by her parents. widow consists in putting vermilion on the parting of her Divorce is. allowed on hair and bangles on her wrists. pain of a fine of Rs. 50 if the divorce is sought by the

husband, and of Rs. 25


localities divorce

if

the wife asks for

it.

In

some

and also polygamy are said to be forbidden, and in such cases a woman who commits adultery is finally expelled from the caste, and a funeral feast is given to symbolise her death.

The

family god of the Agharias


1

every household.

111

ITT .'I Haraiti day On the


/->.

is

Dulha Deo, who exists ,1 or the commence-

4-

Reii-

gious and
^^^^^^

ment of

the agricultural year they worship the implements

customs.

12

AGHARIA
if

PART

of cultivation, and at Dasahra the sword

they have one.

them sumpEvery Agharia has a giwu or spiritual guide who whispers the mantra or sacred verse into his ear The dead are usually burnt, and is occasionally consulted. but children and persons dying of cholera or smallpox are buried, males being placed on the pyre or in the grave on their faces and females on their backs, with the feet pointing On the third day the ashes are thrown into a to the south. river and the bones of each part of the body are collected and placed under the pipal tree, while a pot is slung over them, through which water trickles continually for a week, and a lighted lamp, cooked food, a leaf-cup and a tooth-stick are placed beside them daily for the use of the deceased Mourning ends on the tenth day, during the same period. and the usual purification ceremonies are then performed. Well -to -do Children are mourned for a shorter period.

They have
tuously at

a great reverence for cows and feed

festivals.

members

of the caste feed a

Brahman

daily for a year after

a death, believing that food so given passes to the spirit of the deceased.

On

the anniversary of the death the caste-

and after that the deceased becomes a purkha or ancestor and participates in devotions paid at
fellows are feasted,

the shrddhh ceremony.


dies, his

When

the head of a joint family

successor
is

is

given a turban and betel-leaves, and his


priest

forehead

marked by the

sandalwood.

one days.
the child
until

A
is

and other relations with After a birth the mother is impure for twentyfeast is given on the twelfth day, and sometimes
then, but often children are not

named

named
usually

they are six years old.


in

The names
of

of

men
in

end

Women

Ram, Ndth or Singh, and those do not name their husbands,

women

Kunwa^-.

their elderly relations,

A man does nor the sons of their husband's eldest brother. not name his wife, as he thinks that to do so would tend to
accordance with the Sanskrit saying, He who is desirous of long life should not name himself, his guru, The Agharias do not a miser, his eldest son, or his wife.'
shorten his
life

in

'

They will not take cooked admit outsiders into the caste. food from any caste, and water only from a Gaur or Rawat. They refuse to take water from an Uriya Brahman, probably in retaliation for the refusal of Uriya Brahmans to accept

II

Acr/ORr

13

water from an Ajrharfa, thoui;h taking it from a Kolta. Both the Uriya Brahmans and Agharias are of somewhat doubtful origin, and both are therefore probably the more concerned to maintain the social position to which they lay claim. But Kewats, Rawats, Telis and other castes eat

cooked food from Agharias, and the caste therefore is admitted to a fairly high rank in the Uriya country. The Agharias do not drink liquor or eat any food which a Rajput would refuse. As cultivators they are considered to be proficient. In the census of 1901 nearly a quarter of the whole caste were shown as malguzars or village proprietors and lessees. They wear a coarse cloth of homespun yarn which they get woven probably in consequence of this the for them by Gandas Agharias do not consider the touch of the Ganda to pollute them, as other castes do. They will not grow turmeric, onions, garlic, i-<a:;^-hemp or tomatoes, nor will they rear tasar silk-cocoons. Colonel Dalton says that their women do no outdoor work, and this is true in the Central Provinces as regards the better classes, but poor women work in the fields.
;

5.

Occupa-

''"'

The most disreputable class of Aghori, Ag'horpanthi.^ Saiva mendicants who feed on human corpses and excrement, and in past times practised cannibalism. The sect is apparently an ancient one, a supposed reference to it being contained in the Sanskrit drama Malati Mdd/iava, the hero of which rescues his mistress from being offered as a sacrifice by one named Aghori Ghanta.^ According to Lassen, quoted by Sir H. Risley, the Aghoris of the present day are closely connected with the Kapalika sect of the Middle Ages, who wore crowns and necklaces of skulls and offered human sacrifices to Chamunda, a form of Devi, The Aghoris now represent their filthy habits as merely giving practical expression to the abstract doctrine that the whole universe is full of Brahma, and consequently that one thing is as pure as another. By eating the most horrible food they utterly subdue their natural appetites, and hence acquire great power
1 This article is mainly based on a paper on Aghoris and Aghorpanthis, by Mr. H. W. Barrow, in Ihe Journal

i. General accounts

caste.

Aiithr. Soc.
^

Bombay,

iii.

p.

Bhattacharya,

Hindu

197. Casles

and

Sects, p. 392.

14

AGHORI
It is

PART

over themselves and over the forces of nature.

believed

that an Aghori can at will assume the shapes of a bird, an

animal or a fish, and that he can bring back to life a corpse The principal resort of the of which he has eaten a part. Aghoris appears to be at Benares and at Girnar near Mount Abu, and they wander about the country as solitary mendicants. A few reside in Saugor, and they are occasionally

met with in other places. by the people owing to

They

are

much

feared

their practice of extorting

and disliked alms by

the threat to carry out their horrible practices before the eyes of their victims, and by throwing filth into their houses.
Similarly they gash and cut their limbs so that the crime of

blood
part,"

may

rest

on those who refuse to

give.

"

For the most

Mr. Barrow states,^ " the Aghorpanthis lead a wandering life, are without homes, and prefer to dwell in holes, They do not cook, but clefts of rocks and hwxmw^-ghdts.
eat the fragments given

they put as far as as a begging-bowl.


in

may

them in charity as received, which be into the cavity of the skull used
bodies of chelas (disciples)

The

who

die

Benares are thrown into the Ganges, but the dead who As a rule, Aghoris do not die well off are placed in coffins. bodies, their but when buried they are becomes of what care

The Aghori gurus placed in the grave sitting cross-legged. of colour, and are said to be which may be any keep dogs, The dogs are not all maintained for purposes of protection. pariahs of the streets, although some gurus are followed by Occasionally the dogs three or four when on pilgrimage. seem to be regarded with real affection by their strange The Aghori is believed to hold converse with all masters.
the evil spirits
parties
thing.

frequenting the burning-^/^5/j-, and funeral must be very badly off who refuse to pay him someIn former days he claimed five pieces of wood at each
;

funeral in Benares
sites,

but the

Doms

interfere with his perqui-

and in some cases only let him carry off the remains of When angered and the unburned wood from each pyre. excited, Aghoris invoke Kali and threaten to spread devastaEven among the educated classes, who tion around them. should know better, they arc dreaded, and as an instance of the terror which they create among the ignorant, it may be
1

Aghoris and Aghorpanthis, pp. 224, 226.

mmmmmiammmmmiBtmimtiaiiJ0

't)se,

(_

iuio..

iJdrby.

AGHORI MENDICANT.

II

INSTANCES OF CANNIIiAI.ISM

15

if

mentioned that in the Lucknow District it is believed that ahns are refused them the Aghoris will cause those who
"

refuse to be attacked with fever.

On

the other hand, their good offices

may

secure bene-

fits,

as in the case of a

zamlndar of Muzaffarnagar, who at

him by an Aghori

Allahabad refused to eat a piece of human flesh offered to the latter thereupon threw the flesh at the zamlndar's head, on which it stuck. The zamlndar afterwards became so exceedingly wealthy that he had difficulty in
;

storing his wealth."

In former times it is believed that the Aghoris used to kidnap strangers, sacrifice them to the goddess and eat the bodies, and Mr. Barrow relates the following incident of the murder of a boy: ^ "Another horrible case, unconnected with magic and apparently arising from mere blood-thirst, occurred An Aghori mendicant of Dwarka at Neirad in June 1878. staying at the temple of Sitaram Laldas seized a boy of twelve, named Shankar Ramdas, who was playing with two other boys, threw him down on the ^(^//ir? of the temple, ripped open
his

ism.

abdomen,
little

tore out part of his entrails, and, according to


victim's

dying declaration, began to eat them. alarm, the monster was When interrogated by the magistrate as to whether seized. he had committed the crime in order to perform Aghorbidya, the prisoner said that as the boy was Bhakshan he had eaten his flesh. He added that if he had not been interrupted he He was convicted, but would have eaten all the entrails.
the poor

The

other boys having raised an

only sentenced to transportation for life. The High Court, however, altered the sentence and ordered the prisoner to be hanged."

The following instance, quoted by Mr. Barrow from Rewah, shows how an Aghori was hoist with his own " Some years ago, when Maharaja Bishnath Singh petard was Chief of Rewah, a man of the Aghori caste went to Rewah and sat dhania on the steps of the palace having made ineffectual demands for alms, he requested to be supplied with human flesh, and for five days abstained from The Maharaja was much troubled, and at last, in order food. to get rid of his unwelcome visitor, sent for Ghansiam Das,
:

Page 208.

AGHORI
who had
for

PART

another Aghori, a Fakir,

some years Hved in Ghansiam Das went up to the other Aghori and Rewah. asked him if it was true that he had asked to be supphed
with
I too am extremely form of food here is my hand, eat it and I will eat you'; and at the same time he seized hold of the The Aghori on this other's hand and began to gnaw at it. became much alarmed and begged to be excused. He shortly afterwards left Rewah and was not heard of again, while Ghansiam Das was rewarded for his services." The following recent instance of an Aghori devouring human corpses is reported from the Punjab ^ " The loathsome story of a human ghoul from Patiala shows that the influence of the Aghorpanthi has not yet completely died It is said that for some time past out in this country. human graves have been found robbed of their contents, and the mystery could not be solved until the other day, when the police succeeded in arresting a man in the

Ghansiam

human flesh. On receiving a Very well, Das said


'
:

reply in the affirmative,

partial to this

act of desecrating a child's grave,

some

forty miles distant

The ghoul not only did not from the capital (Patiala). conceal the undevoured portion of the corpse he had with him, but told his captors the whole story of his gruesome He is a low-caste Hindu named Ram Nath, and career. a singularly a gentleman who saw him, is, according to red-eyed and mild and respectful-looking man, instead of a him from the ravenous savage,' as he had expected to find He became an accounts of his disgusting propensities. orphan at five and fell into the hands of two Sadhus of his own caste, who were evidently Aghorpanthis. They taught him to eat human flesh, which formed the staple of their The meat was procured from the graves in the vilfood. lages they passed through. When Ram Nath was thoroughly Since then educated in this rank the Sadhus deserted him. he had been living on human carrion only, roaming about He cannot eat cooked the country like a hungry vulture. food, and therefore gets two seers of raw meat from the
'

State every day.


1

It

is

also reported that the


Ascetics

Maharaja has
pp. 164,

The Tribune (Lahore), November

and Saints of India,

29, 1898, quoted in

Oman's Mystics,

165.

II

INSTANCES OF CANNIHALISM
prohibited his being given anj'tliing but cooked
Sir
B.

17

now

food
the

with a view to reforming liim."


J.

Fuller relates the following


as a servant
}

incident of

There are actually ten thousand persons who at census time classed themselves a,s Aghoris. All of them do not practise cannibalism and some of them attempt to rise in the world. One of them secured service as a cook with a British officer of my acquaintMy friend was in camp in the jungle with his wife ance. and children, when his other servants came to him in a body and refused to remain in service unless the cook was dismissed, since they had discovered, they declared, that during the night-time he visited cemeteries and dug up the bodies of freshly buried cliildren. The cook was absent, but they
pointed to a box of his that emitted a sickening smell.

employment of an Aghori

"

The

man was

incontinently expelled, but for long afterwards the

family were haunted by reminiscences of the curries they had eaten."


'

Studies of Indian Life

mid

Sen/iweiif, p. 44.

VOL.

II

AHiR
LIST OF
1

PARAGRAPHS
i

Gefteral notice.

o.

Birth customs.
Fiaieralj-ites.

2.

Former dominance
hiras.

of the Al>-

ii.

Bringing back

the soul.
12.

3. 4.
5.

A/ur
Tlie
TJie

dialects.

Religion.

Kj-ishna

and

other

Yddavas and Kjishna. modern Ahlrs an occitpa-

deified cowherds.
13.
1

Caste

deities.

tional caste.
6.
7.

4.

Other

deities.

Subcastes.

15.

The

Dauwa

or

ivet-77urse

16.

The Diivdli festival. Omens.


Social customs.

Ahirs.
8.

Fosterage.

17.
18.
19.

g.

Exogamy. Marriage customs.


20.

Or7taments.

Occupation.

Preparations of milk.

Ahir,^

Mahakul.
breeders.

The
In

Gaoli,

Guala,
caste
I

of

Golkar, Gaolan, Rawat, Gahra, cowherds, milkmen and cattleAhlrs numbered nearly
Provinces

191

the

persons
sixth

in

the

Central

excludes

in point of numbers. 150,000 Gowaris or graziers of the IMaratha Districts, and if these were added the Ahlrs would outnumber the Telis and rank fifth. The name Ahir is derived from Abhlra, a tribe mentioned several times in inscriptions Goala, a cowherd, from and the Hindu sacred books.

caste

750,000 and Berar, being the This figure, however,

Gopala,'*^

a protector of cows,

is

the Bengali
signification,
is

caste,

and Gaoli, with the same

name for the now used in


class of

the Central Provinces to signify a dairyman as opposed to a grazier.

Gaolis in Berar.

The Gaolans appear to be an inferior The Golkars of Chanda may be


Golars
or
graziers,

derived

from

the

Telugu

with

probable

' The information about birth customs in this article is from a paper by Mr. Kalika Prasad, Tahsildar, Riij-

Nandgaon State, " Go, gau or


18

gai, an ox or cow, and pat 01 fdlai, guardian.

PT.

II

FORMER DOMINANCE OF

TJIE AllHIRAS

19

admixture of Goncl blood. They are described as wildlooking people scattered about in the most thickly forested tracts of the District, where they graze and tend cattle. Rawat, a corruption of Rajputra or a princeling, is the name borne by the Ahir caste in Chhattlsgarh while Gahra is their designation in the Uriya country. The Mahakul Ahirs are a small group found in the Jashpur State, and said to belong to the Nandvansi division. The name means Great family.' The Abhlras appear to have been one of the immigrant tribes from Central Asia who entered India shortly before or about the commencement of the Christian era. In the Puranas and Mahilbharata they are spoken of as Dasyu or robbers, and Mlechchhas or foreigners, in the story which says that Arjuna, after he had burned the dead bodies of Krishna and Balaram at Dwiirka, was proceeding with the widows of the Yadava princes to Mathura through the Punjab when he was waylaid by the Abhlras and deprived of his treasures and
;

'

2. Former '^"a"ce

Abhiras.

beautiful

women.

An

inscription

of the Saka era

102,

or A.D.

180, speaks of a grant


state,

commander-in-chief of the
the locality being

made by the Senapati or who is called an Abhlra,


Another inscription

Sunda

in

Kathiawar.

found in Nasik and assigned by Mr. Enthoven to the fourth century speaks of an Abhlra king, and the Puranas say that after the Andhrabhrityas the Deccan was held by the Abhlras, the west coast tract from the Tapti to Deogarh being called by their name.^ In the time of Samudragupta
in

in
in

the middle of the fourth century the Abhiras were settled Eastern Rajputana and Malwa.^ When the Kathis arrived

of the country in

Gujarat in the eighth century, they found the greater part the possession of the Ahlrs.^ In the Mirzapur District of the United Provinces a tract known as
is

Ahraura

considered to be

named
is

after the tribe

and near
Elliot

Jhansi another piece of country


states that AhIrs

called Ahlrwar.^

were also Rajas of Nepal about the commencement of our era.^ In Khandesh, Mr. Enthoven states,
^ Ind. Ant. (Jan. 1911), 'Foreign Elements in the Hindu Population,' by Mr. D. R. Bhandarkar. ^ Elliot, Supplemental Glossary, s.v.

Early History of India, 3rd


Elliot, ibide?>!.

ed.

p.

286.
*

^ 6

Bombay Monograph on Ahir.


Elliot, ibidem.

Ahir.

20

AHIR

PART

In many castes the settlements of the Ahirs were important. there is a separate division of AhIrs, such as the Ahir Sunars,
Sutars, Lohars, Shimpis, Sails, Guraos and Kolis.

The
in

fort

of Asirgarh in
to

Nimar bordering on Khandesh have been founded by one Asa AhIr, who
fifteenth

is

supposed
the
his

lived

beginning of the

century.

It

is

said

that

ancestors had held land here for seven hundred years, and

he had io,ooo

cattle,
;

20,000 sheep and 1000 mares, with


still

2000

followers
his

but was

known

to

the

people, to

whom

benevolence had endeared him, by the simple This derivation of Asirgarh is clearly name of Asa. erroneous, as it was known as Asir or Asirgarh, and held

by the Tak and Chauhan Rajputs from the eleventh century. But the story need not on that account, Mr. Grant says,^ be
set

down

as wholly a fable.

Firishta,

who

records

it,

has

usually a good credit, and

more probably the

real existence

of a line of Ahir chieftains in the Tapti valley suggested a Other traditions of convenient ethnology for the fortress.
the past domination of the pastoral tribes

remain

in

the

Deogarh on the Chhindwara plateau the legend, the last seat of Gaoli power according to was, subversion by the Gonds in the sixteenth prior to its the Deogarh Gond century. Jatba, the founder of
Central
Provinces.

dynasty,
rulers,

is

said

to

have entered the service of the Gaoli

Mansur and Gansur, and subsequently with the aid of the goddess Devi to have slain them and usurped their
But a Gaoli chief still retained possession of the kingdom. fort of Narnfda for a few years longer, when he also was Similarly the fort of Gawilgarh slain by the Muhammadans. on the southern crest of the Satpuras is said to be named after a Gaoli chief who founded it. The Saugor traditions bring down the Gaoli supremacy to a much later date, as the tracts of Etawa and Khurai are held to have been governed by their chieftains till the close of the seventeenth
century.

Certain dialects called after the Abhiras or AhIrs

still

One, known as Ahlrwati, is spoken in the Rohtak and Gurgaon Districts of the Punjab and round Delhi. This is akin to Mewati, one of the forms of Rajasthani or the
remain.
^

Central Provinces Gazetteer (1S71), Introduction.

THE YADAVAS AND KRISHNA


lancjuac^c of Rajputfina.
is

21

The Malwi dialect of Rajasthani and that curious form of Gujarati, which is half a l>hil dialect, and is generally known as Khandeshi, also bears the name of Ahlrani.^ The above linguistic facts seem to prove only that the Abhiras, or their occupational successors, the Ahlrs, were strongly settled in the Delhi country of the Punjab, Malwa and Khandesh. They do not seem to throw much light on the origin of the Abhiras or Ahlrs, and necessarily refer only to a small section of the existing Ahir caste, the great bulk of whom speak the Aryan language current where they dwell. Another authority
also

known

as Ahiri

states,

however, that

the

Ahlrs of Gujarat

still

retain

and concludes that this and the other Ahir dialects are the remains of the distinct Abhlra language. It cannot necessarily be assumed that all the above traditions relate to the Abhlra tribe proper, of which the modern Ahir caste are scarcely more than the nominal
dialect of their own,

4.

The

^^"^'^^^^

Krishna.

be concluded from them that the Abhiras were widely spread over India
representatives.
it

Nevertheless,

may

fairly

and dominated considerable


held to have entered

tracts

of country.

They

are

India

about the same time as the

Sakas,

who

settled in Gujarat,

among

other places, and, as

seen above, the earliest records of the Abhiras show them in

Nasik and Kathiawar, and afterwards widely spread in Khandesh, that is, in the close neighbourhood of the Sakas. It has been suggested in the article on Rajput that the Yadava and other lunar clans of Rajputs may be the representatives of the Sakas and other nomad tribes who invaded India shortly before and after the Christian era. The god Krishna is held to have been the leader of the Yadavas, and to have founded with them the sacred city of Dwarka in Gujarat. The modern Ahlrs have a subdivision called Jaduvansi or Yaduvansi, that is, of the race of the Yadavas, and they hold that Krishna was of the Ahir tribe. Since the Abhiras were also settled in Gujarat it is possible that they may have been connected with the Yadavas, and that this may be the foundation for their claim that Krishna was of their tribe. The Dyashraya-Kavya of Hemachandra speaks of a Chordasama prince reigning near Junagarh as
^

Linguistic Survey of India, vol.

ix.

part

ii.

p. 50.

22

AHIR

PART

But this is no doubt very conan Abhira and a Yadava. and the simple fact that Krishna was a herdsman would be a sufficient reason for the Ahirs to claim connection with him. It is pointed out that the names of Abhira chieftains given in the early inscriptions are derived from the god Siva, and this would not have been the case if they had at that epoch derived their origin from Krishna, an "If the Abhiras had really been incarnation of Vishnu. the descendants of the cowherds (Gopas) whose hero was Krishna, the name of the rival god Siva would never have formed components of the names of the Abhiras, whom we Hence the conclusion may find mentioned in inscriptions. safely be drawn that the Abhiras were by no means connected 'with Krishna and his cowherds even as late as about A.D. 300, to which date the first of the two inscriptions mentioned Precisely the same conclusion is above is to be assigned. .pointed to by the contents of the Harivansha and Bhagwat Purana. The upbringing of Krishna among the cowherds and his flirtations with the milkmaids are again and again mentioned in these works, but the word Abhira does not occur even once in this connection. The only words we find used are Gopa, Gopi and Vraja. This is indeed remarkable. For the descriptions of the removal of Krishna as an infant to Nanda, the cowherd's hut, of his childhood passed in playing with the cowherd boys, and of his youth spent in amorous sports with the milkmaids are set forth at great length, but the word Abhira is not once met with. From this only one conclusion is possible, that is, that the
jectural,

yVbhiras did not originally represent the

Gopas of Krishna.
in

The word Abhira


that the Abhiras

occurs for the

first

time

connection with
it

the Krishna legend about A.D.

550, from which

follows

came
^

to be identified with the

Gopas shortly

before that date."

This argument is interesting as showing that Abhira was not originally an occupational term for a herdsman, nor a caste name, but belonged to an immigrant tribe. Owing apparently
to the fact that the Abhiras, like the Gujars, devoted

selves

to

pastoral

mode

of

life

in

India,

themwhereas the

previous

Aryan immigrants had


'

settled

down

to cultivation,

Bombay Ethnographic

Stcfvey.

II

THE VADAVAS ANn KRISHNA

23

they fravc their name to the i^rcat occujjational caste of herdsmen which was subsequently develo[)ed, and of which The they may originally have constituted the nucleus. Gujars, who came to India at a later period, form a parallel
case
is

although the Giljar caste, which is derived from them, less important than the Ahlr, the Gujars have also The reason why been the parents of several Rajpiit clans. the early Mathura legends of Krishna make no mention of
;

far

the Ahirs

be that the deity Krishna is probably comtwo if not more distinct personalities. One is the hero chief of the Yadavas, who fought in the battle of the Pandavas and Kauravas, migrated to Gujarat

may
at

pounded of

least

As he was chief of the Yadavas this and was killed there. Krishna must stand for the actual or mythical personality The other of some leader of the immigrant nomad tribes. Krishna, the boy cowherd, who grazed cattle and sported writh the milkmaids of Brindaban, may very probably be some hero of the indigenous non-Aryan tribes, who, then as now, lived in the forests and were shepherds and herdsmen. His lowly birth from a labouring cowherd, and the fact that his name means black and he is represented in sculpture as

The cult being of a dark colour, lend support to this view. comparatively late, of Krishna, Mr. Crooke points out, was worship and probably connected with the development of the This latter of the cow after the decay of Buddhism. Krishna, who is worshipped with his mother as a child-god, was especially attractive to women, both actual and prospective mothers.
It is quite probable therefore that as his worship became very popular in Hindustan in connection with that of the cow, he was given a more illustrious origin by identification with the Yadava hero, whose first home In this connection it may also was apparently in Gujarat. be noted that the episodes connected with Krishna in the

Mahabharata have been considered late interpolations. But though the Ahir caste takes its name and is perhaps partly descended from the Abhlra tribe, there is no doubt that it is now and has been for centuries a purely occupational

5.

The

"hirsTn
occupa^^^^^^_

from the indigenous tribes. Thus in Bengal Colonel Dalton remarks that the features of the Mathuravasi Goalas are high, sharp and delicate, and
caste,

largely

recruited

24

AHIR

PART

they are of light-brown complexion.


are

Those of the Magadha

subcaste, on the other hand, are undefined and coarse.

They

dark-complexioned, and have large hands and feet. " Seeing the latter standing in a group with some Singhbhum Kols, there is no distinguishing one from the other. There has doubtless been much mixture of blood." ^ Similarly in the Central Provinces the Ahirs are largely recruited from the Gonds and other tribes. In Chanda the Gowaris are admittedly descended from the unions of Gonds and Ahirs, and one of their subcastes, the Gond- Gowaris, are often classed as Gonds. Again, the Kaonra Ahirs of Mandla are descended from the unions of Ahirs either with the Gonds or Kawars, and many of them are probably pure Gonds. They have Gond sept-names and eat pork. Members of one of their subdivisions, the Gond-Kaonra, will take water from Gonds, and rank below the other Kaonras, from whom they will accept food and water. As cattle have to go into
the thick jungles to graze
live there,
in

the hot weather, the graziers

attending them become intimate with the forest tribes


the cattle,

who

and these latter are also often employed to graze and are perhaps after a time admitted to the

Ahir caste. Many Ahirs in Mandla are scarcely considered to be Hindus, living as they do in Gond villages in sole company with the Gonds.

The

principal subcastes of the Ahirs in northern India

are the Jaduvansi, Nandvansi and Gowalvansi.

vansi claimed to be descended from the Yadavas,

form the Yadu and Jadon-Bhatti clans of probability of a historical connection between the Abhiras and Yadavas has already been noticed. The Nandvansi consider their first ancestor to have been Nand, the cowherd, while the name of the Gowalthe foster-father of Krishna vansi is simply Gofda or Gauli, a milkman, a common synonym for the caste. The Kaonra Ahirs of Mandla and the Kamarias of Jubbulpore are considered to belong to the Nandvansi group. Other subcastes in the northern Districts are the Jijhotia, who, like the Jijhotia Brahmans, take their name from Jajhoti, the classical term for Bundelkhand the Bharotia and the Narwaria from Narwar. The Rawats
;
;

The Jaduwho now Rajputs. The

Quoted

in

Tribes ajtd Castes of Bengal,

art.

Goala.

II

THE DAUWA OR WET-NURSE

AIItRS

25

arc divided into the Jliadia, Kosaria and Kanaujia groups. Of these the Jhadia or 'jungly,' and Kosaria from Kosala, the ancient name of the Chhattlsgarh country, arc the oldest settlers, while the Kanaujia are largely employed as personal servants in Chhattlsgarh, and all castes The superior class of them, will take water from their hands. however, refuse to clean household cooking vessels, and are hence known as Thethwar, or exact or pure, as distinguished from the other Rawats, who will perform this somewhat derogatory work. The Dauwa or wet-nurse Ahirs are descended from the illegitimate offspring of Bundela Rajput fathers by Ahir mothers who were employed in this capacity in their families. An AhIr woman kept by a Bundela was known as Pardwarin, or one coming from another house. This is not considered though the Dauwa Ahirs are not rea disgraceful origin cognised by the Ahirs proper, they form a separate section of the caste, and Brahmans will take water from them. The children of such mothers stood in the relation of fosterbrothers to the Rajputs, whom their mothers had nursed. The giving of milk, in accordance with the common primitive belief in the virtue attaching to an action in itself, was held to constitute a relation of quasi-maternity between the nurse and infant, and hence of fraternity between her own children and her foster-children. The former were called Dhai-bhais or foster-brothers by the Rajputs they were often given permanent grants of land and employed on confidential missions, as for the arrangement of marriages. The minister of a Raja of Karauli was his Dauwa or foster-father, the husband of his nurse. Similarly, Colonel Tod says that the Dhai-bhai or foster-brother of the Raja of Boondi, commandant of the fortress of Tanagarh, was, like all his class,

of Chhattisi^arh

7-

The

weunure
Ahirs.

devotion

personified.^

parallel

instance

of the

tie

of

foster-kinship occurs in the case of the foster-brothers of

Conachar or Hector

in

position of foster-brother of a Rajput

even though the child were often employed as wet-nurses, because domestic service was a profession in which they commonly engaged. Owing
^

The Fair Maid of Perth. Thus the was an honourable one, might be illegitimate. Ahir women

Rajasthtui,

ii.

p.

639.

26
to the comparatively

AHIR

PART

humble origin of a large proportion of them they did not object to menial service, while the purity of their caste made it possible to use them for the supply of water and food. In Bengal the Uriya Ahlrs were a common class of servants in European houses. The Gaolis or milkmen appear to form a distinct branch of the caste with subcastes of their own. Among them are the Nandvans, comm.on to the Ahlrs, the Malwi from Malwa and the Raghuvansi, called after the Rajput clan of that name. The Ranyas take their designation from rdn^ forest,
like the

Jhadia Rawats. caste have exogamous sections, which are of the usual low-caste type, with titular or totemistic names. Those

The

of the Chhattlsgarhi Rawats are generally

A
or

curious

named after animals. name among the Mahakul Ahirs is Mathankata, The marriage of one who bit his mother's nipples.
first

persons belonging to the same section and of


is

cousins
sister

prohibited.
is

man may marry

his wife's
sister.

younger

while his wife

living,

but not her elder


is

The

practice

of exchanging girls between families

permissible.

As
parents

a rule, girls

may

the Golkars of
if

Chanda

insist

be married before or after puberty, but on infant marriage, and fine the

an unmarried girl becomes adolescent. On the Kaonra Ahlrs of Mandla make a practice of not getting a girl married till the signs of puberty have appeared. It is said that in Mandla if an unmarried girl becomes pregnant by a man of the caste the paiicJidyat give her to him and fine him Rs. 2 or 30, which they appropriate themselves, giving nothing to the father. If an Ahir girl is seduced by an outsider, she is made over to him, and a fine of Rs. 40 or 50 is exacted from him if possible. This is paid to the girl's father, who has to spend it on a penalty
other hand, the
feast to the
caste.

Generally, sexual offences

within

the

community
is

are leniently regarded.

of the type prevalent in the from the boy's family, and a price is usually given for the bride. The Kaonra Ahlrs of Mandla and the Jharia and Kosaria Rawats of Chhattlsgarh employ a Brfdiman only to write the lagun or paper fi.xing the date of the wedding, and the ceremony is conducted by the sazvdsins or relatives of

The wedding ceremony locality. The proposal comes

II

TURTfJ

CUSTOMS
is

27

the parties.
girl to

In Chhatti.s<jaili the bridcf^room

dressed as a

be taken to the wedding.


in

In Betul the

weddings of

most Gaolis are held

Magh

(January), and that of the

Ranya subcaste in the bright fortnight of Kartik (October). At the ceremony the bride is made to stand on a small stone
roller the bridegroom then takes hold of the roller facing the bride and goes round in a circle seven times, turning Widow remarriage is permitted, and the roller with him.
;

widow

is

often expected to

marry the younger brother of

If a bachelor wishes to marry a her deceased husband. through the ceremony with a dagger or goes widow he first In Hoshanis freely permitted. an earthen vessel. Divorce

gabad a and wife

strip

is

torn

off the

clothes

as a sign of their divorce.

This

worn by husband is presumably in

contrast to the knotting of the clothes of the couple together


at a wedding.

Among
shortly
presses
to
it

the Rawats

of Chhattisgarh,

when a

child
oil

is

10.

Birth

be born the midwife dips her hand in on the wall, and it is supposed that she can tell by the way in which the oil trickles down whether the child will If a woman is weak and ill during her be a boy or a girl.

and

customs.

pregnancy it is thought that a boy will be born, but if she is strong and healthy, a girl. A woman in advanced pregnancy is given whatever she desires to eat, and on one occasion
especially delicate kinds of food are served to her, this rite

being
that

known

as Sidhori.

The explanation
long for
it

of the custom

is

if

the mother does not get the food she desires during
will
all

pregnancy the child


delivery
is

delayed, a line of

men and boys

If through life. is sometimes

made from the door of the house to a well, and a vessel is then passed from hand to hand from the house, filled with water, and back again. Thus the water, having acquired the
quality of speed during
this to the
its

rapid transit, will

communicate

Or they un moulded on the potter's wheel and give it her to drink in water the explanation of this is exactly similar, the earth having acquired the quality of If three boys swiftness by the rapid transit on the wheel.

woman and

cause her quick delivery.

take some of the clay

left

or three girls have been born to a

the fourth should be of the

same

sex, in order to

woman, they think that make up

28

AHiR
pairs.

PART

two
sex

born after three of the opposite is considered very unlucky. To avert this misfortune they cover the child with a basket, kindle a fire of grass all round it, and smash a brass pot on the floor. Then they say that the baby is the fifth and not the fourth child, and the evil is thus removed. When one woman gives birth to a male and another to a female child in the same quarter of a village on the same day and they are attended by the same midwife, it is thought that the boy child will fall ill from the contagion of the girl child communicated through the midwife. To avoid this, on the following Sunday the child's maternal uncle makes a banghy, which is carried across the shoulders like a large pair of scales, and weighs the child in it against cowdung. He then
girl
is

boy or

called

Titra or Titri, and

takes the
village.
till

banghy and deposits

it

at cross-roads outside the


its

The

father cannot see either the child or

mother

Chathi or sixth-day ceremony of purification, when the mother is bathed and dressed in clean clothes, the males of the family are shaved, all their clothes are washed,
after the

and the house


this day.

is

whitewashed

the child

is

also

named on
born at an

The mother cannot go


its

out of doors until after the


If a child
is

Barhi or twelfth -day ceremony.

unlucky astrological period


1 1.

ears are pierced in the fifth

Funeral

month after birth The dead are


'^y''"'?

as a

means of

protection.

either buried

or burnt.
rice
if

When

man

is

Bringing

they put basil leaves and boiled

back the
soul

moutli,

and a

little

piece of

gold, or

and milk in his they have not got


it

gold they put a rupee in his

mouth and take

out again.

and a lamp are set out in the house-yard every evening, and every morning water and a tooth-stick. On the tenth day they are taken away and consigned to a river. In Chhattisgarh on the third day after death the soul is brought back. The women put a lamp on a red earthen pot and go to a tank or stream at night. The fish are attracted towards the light, and one of them is caught and put in the pot, which is then filled with water. It is brought home and set beside a small heap of flour, and the elders sit round it. The son of the

For ten days

after a death, food in a leaf-cup

deceased or other near relative anoints himself with turmeric and picks up a stone. This is washed with the water from

II

REUGION
is

29

ihc pot, and placed on the floor, and a sacrifice of a cock or

hen

woman.
ij.

made to The

it

accordinq^ as the deceased


is

stone

then enshrined
is

in

was a man or a the house as a


It

family god, and the sacrifice of a fowl

repeated annually.

supposed apparently that the dead man's spirit is brouc^ht ';ack to the house in the fish, and then transferred to the :tone by washing this with the water. The Ahirs have a special relation to the Hindu religion, owing to their association with the sacred cow, which is itself When religion gets to the anthroporevered as a goddess. morphic stage the cowherd, who partakes of the cow's sanctity, may be deified as its representative. This was probably the case with Krishna, one of the most popular gods of Hinduism, who was a cowherd, and, as he is represented as being of a dark colour, may even have been held to be of the indigenous races. Though, according to the legend, he was really of royal birth, Krishna was brought up by Nand, a herdsman of Gokul, and Jasoda or Dasoda his wife, and in the popular belief these are his parents, as they probably were in the original story. The substitution of Krishna, born as a prince, for Jasoda's daughter, in order to protect him from destruction by the evil king Kansa of Mathura, is perhaps a later gloss, devised when his herdsman parentage was considered too obscure for the divine hero. Krishna's childhood in Jasoda's house with his miraculous feats of strength and his amorous sports with Radha and the other milkmaids of Brindawan, are among the most favourite Hindu legends. Govind and Gopal, the protector or guardian of cows, are names of Krishna and the commonest names of Hindus, as are also his other epithets, Murlidhar and Bansidhar, the flute-player for Krishna and Balaram, like Greek and Roman shepherds, were accustomed to divert themselves with song, to the accompaniment of the same instrument. The child Krishna is also very popular, and his birthday, the Janam-Ashtami on the 8th of dark Bhadon (August), is a great festival. On this day potsful of curds are sprinkled over the assembled worshippers. Krishna, however, is not the solitary instance of the divine cowherd, but has several companions, humble indeed compared to him, but perhaps owing their apotheosis to the same reasons, Bhilat, a popular local godling of the

12.

Re-

i!f,.'hna
;^"'i

ihcr

cowherds,

AHIR
of an Ahir or Gaoli

Nerbudda Valley, was the son

woman

she was childless and prayed to Parvati for a child, and the goddess caused her votary to have one by her own husband, the

god Mahadeo.

Bhilat was stolen

away from
;

his

home by

and grew up to be a but finally he returned great hero and made many conquests and lived with his herdsman parents, who were no doubt his real ones. He performed numerous miracles, and his devotees
in the disguise of a beggar,

Mahadeo

are

still

possessed by his

spirit.

Singaji

is

another godling
a disciple of

who was
a

a Gaoli by caste

in Indore.

He became

holy Gokulastha Gosain or ascetic, and consequently a great observer of the Janam-Ashtami or Krishna's birthday.^ On one occasion Singaji was late for prayers on this day, and
the guru was very angry, and
said to him,
'

Don't show

went your face to home and told the other children he was going to die. Then The occurrence was he went and buried himself alive. noised abroad and came to the ears of the guru, who was much distressed, and proceeded to offer his condolences to But on the way he saw Singaji, who had Singaji's family. been miraculously raised from the dead on account of his
Singaji

me

again until you are dead.'

virtuous act of obedience, grazing his buffaloes as before.

After asking for milk, which Singaji drew


buffalo calf, the

from

male

gm-u was able

to inform the bereaved parents


;

of their son's joyful reappearance and his miraculous powers


since his

of these Singaji gave further subsequent demonstration, and


death, said to have occurred

widely

venerated.
butter

The
if

Gaolis

pray

350 years ago, is him for the to

protection

of their cattle

offerings of

these prayers

from disease, and make thankOther are fulfilled.

pilgrims to Singaji's shrine offer unripe

mangoes and
it is

sugar,

and an annual fair seven days no cows,

is

held at

it,

when

said that for

flies

or ants are to be seen in the place.


is

In the Betul district there

a village godling called Dait,

tree. He is the spirit of any Ahlr who in his lifetime was credited in the locality with In Mandla and other having the powers of an exorcist. Districts when any buffalo herdsman dies at a very advanced

represented by a stone under a

Gokul was the place where Krishna was brought up, and the Gokulastha

Gosains are his special devotees.

II

CASTE DEITIES

31

age the people make a platform for him within the village Similarly, and call it Mahashi Deo or the buffalo god. when an old cattle herdsman dies they do the same, and call Balki Ueo or the bullock god. Here we have a clear it
instance of

the process of substituting

the

spirit

of

the

lierdsman for the cow or buffalo as an object of worship.

The occupation
imaginations.

di the Ahir also lends itself to religious

He

stays in the forest or waste grass-land,


till

frequently alone from morning

night,

and

the

credulous

and

uneducated

watching his herds minds of the more


;

emotional

may

easily

hear the

voices of spirits, or in

and stillness of the long day may think that visions have appeared to them.
half-sleeping condition during the heat

Thus they come

to believe themselves selected for

cation with the unseen deities or spirits,

communiand on occasions of

strong religious excitement work themselves into a frenzy

and are held

to be possessed

by a

spirit or god.
13.

is Kharak Deo, always located at the khirkha, or place of assembly of the cattle, on going to and returning from pasture. He appears to be the spirit or god of the kliirkJia. He is represented by a platform with an image of a horse on it, and when cattle fall ill the owners offer flour and butter to him. These are taken by the Ahirs in charge, and it is thought that the

Among
is

the special deities of the Ahirs

Caste

who

'^'"^^'

cattle will get well.

Matar Deo

is

the god of the pen or

enclosure for cattle

Three days after one or more goats to him, cutting off their heads. They throw the heads into the air, and the cattle, smelling the blood, run together and toss them with their horns as they do when they scent a tiger. The men then say that the animals are possessed by Matar Deo,
in

made

the jungle.
sacrifice

the Diwali festival the

Rawats

village

Guraya Deo is a deity who lives in the cattle-stalls in the and is worshipped once a year. A man holds an ^^^ in his hand, and walks round the stall pouring liquid over
the
is
Q.'g^ all the way, so as to make a line round it. The o.^^ then buried beneath the shrine of the ijod, the rite beine probably meant to ensure his aid for the protection of the

cattle

from disease in their stalls. favourite saint of the Ahirs is Haridas Baba. He was a Jogi, and could separate his soul from his body at pleasure. On one occasion he had

32

AHIR

PART

14.

Other

deities.

gone in spirit to Benares, leaving his body in the house of When he did not one of his disciples, who was an Ahlr. people heard that a dead body was lying there, the and return, that it should be burnt. insisted When he and they came his was found that body burnt, he entered came back and him, spoke through telling the people what into a man and atonement for their In unfortunate mistake had happened. they promised to worship him. The Mahakul Ahirs of Jashpur have three deities, whom they call Mahadeo or Siva, Sahadeo, one of the five Pandava They say that the brothers, and the goddess Lakshmi. buffalo is Mahadeo, the cow Sahadeo, and the rice Lakshmi.
This also appears to be an instance of the personification of animals and the corn into anthropomorphic deities. The principal festival of the AhIrs is the Diwali, falling

15.

The

P'^^'^'l festival.

about the beginning o of November, which t>

is

also the time

All classes observe this when the autumn crops ripen. feast by illuminating their houses with many small saucer-

and letting off crackers and fireworks, and they gamble with money to bring them good luck The AhIrs make a mound of during the coming year. earth, which is called Govardhan, that is the mountain in Mathura which Krishna held upside down on his finger for seven days and nights, so that all the people might gather under it and be protected from the devastating storms of After dancing round the mound they rain sent by Indra. drive their cattle over it and make them trample it to pieces. At this time a festival called Marhai is held, at which much In liquor is drunk and all classes disport themselves. the standing-place for the Ahirs go to Damoh on this day village cattle, and after worshipping the god, frighten the cattle by waving leaves of the basil-plant at them, and then put on fantastic dresses, decorating themselves with cowries, Elsewhere and go round the village, singing and dancing. at the time of the Marhai they dance round a pole with peacock feathers tied to the top, and sometimes wear peacock feathers themselves, as well as aprons sewn all over It is said that Krishna and Balaram used to with cowries. wear peacock feathers when they danced in the jungles of Mathura, but this rite has probably some connection with
lamps
generally

11

77//:"

niU'Al.I

FESTIVAL
niij^ht

33

the worship of the peacock.

This bird

be venerated

by the Ahirs

as one of the prominent denizens of the jungle.


tie

In Raipur they dance round it.

a white cock to the top of the pole and

In Mandla, Khila Mutha, the


is

god of the

threshing-floor,

worshipped

at

this

time, with offerings

of a fowl and a goat. or waking


stick

him
'

up.

They also perform the rite oi jagdna They tie branches of a small shrub to a

and pour milk over the stone which is his emblem, Wake up, Khila Mutha, this is the night of Amawas (the new moon). Then they go to the cattle-shed and wake up the cattle, crying, Poraiya, god of the door, watchman of the window, open the door, Nand Gowal is coming.' Then they drive out the cattle and chase them and
sing,
' '

with the branches tied to their sticks as far as their grazing-

ground.
is

now

said to signify a

Nand Gowal was the foster-father of Krishna, and man who has a lakh (100,000) of

This custom of frightening the cattle and making them run is called dhor jagdna or bichkdna, that is, to wake Its meaning is obscure, but it is up or terrify the cattle.
cows.

from disease during the year. In Raipur the women make an image of a parrot in clay at the Diwali and place it on a pole and go round to the different houses, singing and dancing round the pole, and They praise the receiving presents of rice and money. parrot as the bird who carries messages from a lover to his mistress, and as living on the mountains and among the green verdure, and sing " Oh, parrot, where shall we sow gondla grass and where
said
to

preserve the cattle

shall
"

we sow

rice

We

"

sow gondla in a pond and rice in the field. With what shall we cvX gondla grass, and with what shall
will
?

we

cut rice
"

cut gondla with an axe and rice with a sickle." probable that the parrot is revered as a spirit of the forest, and also perhaps because it is destructive to the
It
is

We shall
The

corn.

parrot

is

not, so

far as

is

known, associated
it.

with any god, but the Hindus do not

kill

In Bilaspur

put into the parrot's mouth, and it is said there that the object of the rite is to prevent the parrots

an ear of

rice is

from preying on the corn. VOL. II

34

AHIR
On
the night of the
all

PART

full
if

stay

awake

night,

and

the

moon of Jesth (May) the Ahirs moon is covered with clouds


be good.
If a cow's

they think that the rains

will

horns are

not firmly fixed in the head and seem to shake slightly, it called Maini, and such an animal is considered to be is
If a bullock sits down with three legs under him and the fourth stretched out in front it is a very good omen, and it is thought that his master's cattle will increase and multiply. When a buffalo-calf is born they cover it at once with a black cloth and remove it from the mother's sight, as they think that if she saw the calf and it then died The calf is fed by hand. Cowher milk would dry up. calves, on the other hand, are usually left with the mother, and many people allow them to take all the milk, as they think it a sin to deprive them of it. The Ahirs will eat the flesh of goats and chickens, and most of them consume liquor freely. The Kaonra Ahirs of Mandla eat pork, and the Ravvats of Chhattlsgarh are said not to object to field-mice and rats, even when caught in The Kaonra Ahirs are also said not to conthe houses. sider a woman impure during the period of menstruation. Nevertheless the Ahirs enjoy a good social status, owing to As remarked by Eha their relations with the sacred cow. " His family having been connected for many generations

lucky.

with the sacred animal he enjoys a certain consciousness of

moral respectability,
canons."
^

like

man whose

uncles are deans or

the hands of an Ahir, and in Chhattlsgarh and the Uriya country the Rawats and Gahras, as the AhIr caste is known respectively in these localities, are the only caste from whom Brahmans

All

castes will

take water from

and

all

other Hindus will take water.


of
as
their

On

this account,

and

because

comparative
will

purity,

they

are

largely

employed
ordinary

In Chhattlsgarh the cooking - vessels even of Muhammadans, but the Thethwar or pure Rawats refuse this In Mandla, when a man is to be brought menial work. back into caste after a serious offence, such as getting vermin in a wound, he is made to stand in the middle of a stream, while some elderly relative pours water over him.

personal

servants.

Rawats

clean

the

'

Behind

the

Bungalow.

II

ORNAMENTS -occur ATION


addresses
tlie

35

lie then

members of
the

the caste /(^wc/^cy/^/ or

committee,
'

who

are standing on the bank, saying- to them,

Will you leave

me

in

mud

or will you take

me

out

Then they tell him to come out, and he has to give a feast. At this a member of the Meliha sept first eats food and puts some into the offender's mouth, thus taking the latter's sin upon himself The offender then addresses the panchdyat saying, Rajas of the Panch, eat.' Then the pan'

chdyat and
readmitted.

all

the

caste

take food with him


the the
title

panchdyat
subcaste,

is

Nandgaon State known as Thethwar,


In
is

and he is head of the caste


of the highest

and
is

appointed by the Raja, to

whom

he makes

a present.

In Jashpur,

among

the

Mahakul

Ahirs,

when an

offender

put out of caste he has on readmission to

make

an offering of Rs. 1-4 to Balaji, the tutelary deity of the State. These Mahakuls desire to be considered superior to ordinary Ahirs, and their social rules are hence very strict. A man is put out of caste if a dog, fowl or pig touches his water or cooking-pots, or if he touches a fowl. In the latter
case he
is

obliged to

make an

offering of a fowl to the local


it.

god, and eight days are allowed for procuring


also put out

A man

is

of caste for beating his father.

In Mandla,

village,

Ahirs commonly have the title of Patel or headman of a probably because in former times, when the country
for grazing.
18.

consisted almost entirely of forest and grass land, they were

accustomed to hold large areas on contract


In Chhattlsgarh the

Rawat women

are especially fond of

Orna-

wearing large churns or leg-ornaments of bell-metal. These consist of a long cylinder which fits closely to the leg, being made in two halves which lock into each other,
while at each end and in the centre circular plates project outwards horizontally. A pair of these churns may weigh 8 or 10 lbs., and cost from Rs. 3 to Rs. 9. It is probable that some important magical advantage was expected to come from the wearing of these heavy appendages, which must greatly impede free progression, but its nature is not known. Only about thirty per cent of the Ahirs are still occupied in breeding cattle and dealing in milk and butter. About four per cent are domestic servants, and nearly all the remainder cultivators and labourers. In former times the

"^^"'^

19-

Occu-

P^""-

36

AHIR

PART

Ahirs had the exclusive right of milking the cow, so that on occasions an Ahir must be hired for this purpose even by the lowest castes. Any one could, however, milk the buffalo, and also make curds and other preparations from
all

This rule is interesting as showing how the was maintained and perpetuated by the custom of preserving to each caste a monopoly of its traditional
cow's milk/
caste system

occupation.
that

The

rule probably applied also to the

bulk of

the cultivating and the menial and artisan castes, and


it

now

would appear that the gradual decay and dissolution of the caste organisation must
has been entirely abrogated
it

follow.

The

village cattle are usually entrusted jointly to

The grazier is one or more herdsmen for grazing purposes. paid separately for each animal entrusted to his care, a common rate being one anna for a cow or bullock and two annas for a When a calf is born he gets four annas buffalo per month. for a cow-calf and eight annas for a she-buffalo, but except in the rice districts nothing for a male buffalo-calf, as these The animals are considered useless outside the rice area. reason is that buffaloes do not work steadily except in swampy or wet ground, where they can refresh themselves In the northern Districts male by frequent drinking. buffalo-calves are often neglected and allowed to die, but the cow-buffaloes are extremely valuable, because their milk is the principal source of supply of ghl or boiled butter. When a cow or buffalo is in milk the grazier often gets the milk one day out of four or five. When a calf is born the teats of the cow are first milked about twenty times on to the ground in the name of the local god of the Ahlrs. The remainder of the first day's milk is taken by the grazier, and for the next few days it is given to friends. The village grazier is often also expected to prepare the guest-house for Government officers and others visiting the village, fetch grass for their animals, and clean their cooking vessels. For this he sometimes receives a small plot of land and a present of a blanket annually from the village Malguzars and large tenants have their private proprietor. herdsmen. The pasturage afforded by the village waste lands and forest is, as a rule, only sufficient for the plough'

Eastern India,

ii.

\>.

467.

II

PRRPA RATIONS OF MII.K


away sometimes
for lon^^ distances to the

yj

bullocks and more valuable milch-animals.


arc taken

The remainder

Governand here the herdsmen make stockades in the jungle and remain there with their animals for months together. The cattle which remain in the village are taken by the owners in the early morning to the kJiirkha or central Here the grazier takes them over and standing-ground. drives them out to pasture. He brings them back at ten or eleven, and perhaps lets them stand in some field which Then he separates the cows the owner wants manured. and milch-buffaloes and takes them to their masters' houses, where he milks them all. In the afternoon all the cattle The cultivators are again collected and driven out to pasture. are very much in the grazier's hands, as they cannot supervise him, and if dishonest he may sell off a cow or calf to a friend in a distant village and tell the owner that it has Unless the owner been carried off by a tiger or panther. succeeds by a protracted search or by accident in finding the animal he cannot disprove the herdsman's statement, and the

ment

forest reserves,

only remedy
losses

is

to dispense with the latter's services

if

such

become unduly

frequent.
is

On

this

account, accord-

ing to the proverbs, the Ahir


false to his

held to be treacherous and

engagements. They are also regarded as stupid because they seldom get any education, retain their rustic and half-aboriginal dialect, and on account of their solitary The barber's life are dull and slow-witted in company. The cow is in son learns to shave on the Ahir's head.' league with the milkman and lets him milk water into the pail.' The Ahirs are also hot-tempered, and their propensity for drinking often results in affrays, when they break each
' '

A Gaoli's quarrel head with their cattle-staffs. drunk at night and friends in the morning.' Hindus nearly always boil their milk before using it, as the taste of milk fresh from the cow is considered unpalatable. After boiling, the milk is put in a pot and a little old curds added, when the whole becomes dahi or sour curds. This is a favourite food, and appears to be exactly the same substance as the Bulgarian sour milk which is now conButter is also made sidered to have much medicinal value. by churning these curds or dahi. Butter is never used
other's
' :

20. Prepar*^

^lj!^^

38

ANDH
first,

PART

without being boiled


sort of oil
;

when

it

beconnes converted into a

this

has the advantage of keeping

much
and

better

than fresh butter, and


a year.

may remain
is

fit

for use for as

long as
is

This boiled butter

known

as ght,

the

staple product of the dairy industry, the bulk of the surplus

supply of milk being devoted to its manufacture. It is freely used by all classes who can afford it, and serves very
well for cooking purposes.

There

is

a comparatively small

among the Hindus, and as a rule only those drink milk who obtain it from their own animals. The acid residue after butter has been made from dahi (curds) or milk is known as viatJia or butter-milk, and is the
market
for fresh

milk

only kind of milk drunk by the poorer


so long as to
boiled and

classes.

become

solidified

is

known

as

kliir,

by confectioners
while
is

for making sweets. When some sour milk added to it, so that

Milk boiled and is used the milk is


coagulates

it

hot,

the

preparation

is

called

ckhana.

The whey

it in a cloth, and a kind which oozes out at the root of a cow's horns after death is known as gaolocJian and sells for a high price, as it is considered a valuable medicine for children's cough and lung diseases.

expressed from this by squeezing


is

of cheese

obtained.^

The

liquid

Andh." A low cultivating caste of Berar, who numbered 52,000 persons in 191 i, and belong to the Yeotmal, Akola and Buldana Districts. The Andhs appear to be a nonAryan tribe of the Andhra or Tamil country, from which they derive their name. The territories of the Andhra dynasty extended across southern India from sea to sea in the early part of the Christian era. This designation may, however, have been given to them after migration, emigrants being not infrequently called in their new country by the name of the place from which they came, as Berari, Purdesi, Audhia (from Oudh), and so on. At present there seems to be no caste called Andh in Madras. Mr. Kitts ^ notes that they still come from Hyderabad across the Penganga
river.

'

Buchanan, Eastern India,


is

ii.

pp.

924, 943. ^ This article

mainly based on a

paper by Mr. W. S. Slaney, E.A.C., Akola. ^ Berar Census Report (18S1).

AND II

39

The caste arc divided into two groups, Vartati or pure and Khaltfiti or illci,M'timatc, which take food together, but do not intermarry. They have a large number of exogamous septs, most of which appear to have Marathi names, A few either taken from villages or of a titular character. are called after animals or plants, as Majiria the cat, Ringni a kind of tree, Dumare from Dumar, an ant-hill, Dukare from Baghmare Dukar, a pig, and Titawe from Titawa, a bird. means tiger-killer or one killed by a tiger members of this Two septs, Bhoyar and Wanjari, are sept revere the tiger.
;

named

after other castes.

Marriage between members of the same sept is prohibited, and also between first cousins, except that a sister's son may marry a brother's daughter. Until recently marriage has been adult, but girls are now wedded as children, and betrothals are sometimes arranged before they are born. The ceremony resembles that of the Kunbis. Betrothals are arranged between October and December, and the weddings
later, from January to April. mature she goes at once to her husband's Polygamy is allowed and as only a well-to-do man house. can afford to obtain more than one wife, those who have several are held to be wealthy, and treated with respect. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted, but the widow may not marry her husband's brother nor any member of his clan. If an unmarried girl becomes pregnant by a man of her own or a superior caste she is fined, and Her feet are not washed can then be married as a widow. nor besmeared with red powder at the wedding ceremony

take place three or four months


If the bride
is

like those

of other

girls.

In

some

localities

Andh women

detected in a criminal intimacy even with

pure castes as the Mahars and


into the

men of such imMangs have been readmitted


is

community.
detected
in

substantial fine

imposed on a

woman

adultery according to her means and


All the

spent on a feast to the caste.


offences.

members thus have a


and water and sugar
call

personal interest in the detection and punishment of such

The dead

are usually buried,

are placed in a d}'ing man's


objects used by

mouth

instead of the sacred

Hindus

nor are the dying urged to

on Rama.

The dead

are buried with the head to the south,

40
in opposition to the

ARAKH
Hindu custom.

PART

The Andhs

will eat the

flesh

of fowls and pigs, and even cats, rats and snakes in


localities,

have abjured these and will take food from Kunbis, Malis and Kolis, but not from Gonds. They have a caste panchdyat or committee, with a headman called Mohtaria, and two officers known as When a caste offence is committed Phopatia and Dukria. the Dukria goes to call the offender, and is given the earthen pots used at the penalty-feast, while the Phopatia receives a new piece of cloth. The Mohtaria or headman goes from village to village to decide cases, and gets a share of the fine. The caste are shikaris or hunters, and cultivators. They catch antelope, hares, pig and nilgai in their nets, and kill them with sticks and stones, and they dam up streams and net fish. Birds are not caught. Generally, the customs of the Andhs clearly point to an aboriginal origin, but they are rapidly being Hinduised, and in some tracts can scarcely be distinguished from Kunbis. They have Marathi names and though only one name is given at birth, Mr. Slaney notes that this is frequently changed for some pet name, and as often as not a man goes regularly by some name other than his real one,
civilised
latter.

some

though the more

They

are very fond of pork, and drink liquor,

Arakh.
scattered
to be an

small
in

caste

of

cultivators

and

labourers

found principally

Chanda District and Berar and over other localities. The Arakhs are considered
the
offshoot of the Pasi or Bahelia caste of hunters

and

tions

them " All their tradiand Parasurama, the sixth Avatara of Vishnu. One story runs that Parasurama was bathing in the sea, when a leech bit his foot and caused it to bleed. He divided the blood into two parts out of one part he made the first Pasi and out of the second the first Arakh. Another story is that the Pasis were made out of the sweat {paslna) of Parasurama. While Parasurama was away the Pasi shot some animals with his bow, and the deity was so enraged that he cursed the Pasi, and
fowlers.

Mr. Crooke

writes of

connect them with the

Pasis

swore that his descendants should keep


^

pigs.

This accounts

Tribes

and

Castes, art.

Arakh.

II

ARAKH
degradation of the
Pfisis.
;

41

for the

Subsequently Parasurama
'

some Pfisis to help him in one of his wars but they ran away and hid in an arhar field and were hence
sent for
called

Arakhs."
in
:

This connection with the


"

Pasis

is

also

recognised
race

the case of the Arakhs of Bcriir, of


"

whom
are

Mr. Kitts writes


akin
to

The Arakhs found

in

Morsi

a
is

the

Bahelias.

Their regular

occupation

bird-catching and

shikar (hunting).
their marriages, but

They do

not follow

Hindu customs
pigs,

in

eat flesh and drink spirits, Chamar. They appear to be a branch of the Pasi tribe, and are described as a semi-Hinduised class of aborigines." In the Chanda District, however, the Arakhs are closely connected with the Gond tribe, as is evident from their Thus they say that they are divided system of exogamy. into the Matia, Tekam, Tesli, Godam, Madai, Sayam and

although they keep they will not touch a

Chorliu septs, worshipping respectively three, four,


seven, eight

five, six,

and persons who worship the same number of gods cannot marry with one another. This system of divisions according to the different number of gods worshipped is found in the Central Provinces only among the Gonds and one or two other tribes like the Baigas, who have adopted it from them, and as some of the names given above are also Gondi words, no doubt need be entertained that the Arakhs of Chanda are largely of Gond

and twelve gods

descent.

They

are

probably,

in

fact,

the

offspring

of

irregular connections

being

both

between the Gonds and Pasis, who, frequenters of the forests, would naturally
into

come much disowned by

contact

with

each other.

And

being

the true Pasis on account of their defective

pedigree, they have apparently set

up

as a separate caste

and adopted the name of Arakh


their ancestry.

to hide the deficiencies of

other low

customs of the Arakhs resemble those of castes, and need not be given in detail. Their weddings are held near a temple of Maroti, or if there be none such, then at the place where the Holi fire was lit in the preceding year. A bride-price varying from Rs. 25 to Rs. 40 is usually paid. In the case of the
social

The

Hindu

'

Cajanus

indiciis.

'^

BerCir Census Report (1881),

p.

157.

42

A TARI

part

marriage of a widow, the second husband goes to the house woman, where the couple are bathed and seated on two wooden boards, a branch of a cotton-plant being placed near them. The bridegroom then ties five strings of black glass beads round the woman's neck. The dead are mourned for one day only, and a funeral feast is given to the casteof the
fellows.

The Arakhs

are a very low caste, but their touch

does not convey impurity.


General

I.

Atari/

Gandhi,

Bukekari.
is

small

Muhammadan
and kunku
itra, attar

notice.

caste of retailers of scent, incense, tooth-powder

or pink powder.
of roses,

Atari

derived from atar or

Gandhi comes from gandJi, a Sanskrit word for scent. Bukekari is a Marathi word meaning a seller of powder. The Ataris number about two hundred persons in Nagpur, Wardha and Berar. Both Hindus and Muhammadans follow the profession, but the Hindu Ataris are not a separate caste, and belong to the Teli, Gurao and Beldar
castes.
refers,

The Muhammadan Ataris, to whom this article may marry with other Muhammadans, with the

exception of low-class tradesmen like the Pinjaras, Kasais and Kunjras. One instance of an Atari marrying a Rangrez

known, but usually they decline to do so. But since they are not considered to be the equals of ordinary Muhammadans, they constitute more or less a distinct social group.
is

They

are of the

same

position as

Muhammadan

tin- workers,

bangle-makers and pedlars, and sometimes intermarry with them. They admit Hindu converts into the community, but the women refuse to eat with them, and the betterclass families will not intermarry with converts. A new convert must be circumcised, but if he is of advanced age, or if his foreskin is wanting, as sometimes happens, they take a rolled-up betel-leaf and cut it in two in substitution
for the rite.
2.

Mar-

It

is

essential
it

that
is

girl

should

be

married

before

riage

customs.

adolescence, as

said

that

when

the signs of puberty


blood.

appear

in

her before wedlock her parents

equivalent to the shedding of


1 Based on papers by Mr. Bijai Bahadur Royzada, Naib - Tahslldar

human

commit a crime The father

Hinganghat, and Munslii Kanhya Lai


of the Gazetteer
office.

II

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS

43

of the boy looks for a bride, and after droppin;^ hints to the girl's family to see if his proposal is acceptable, he sends some female relatives or friends to discuss the marriage.
ring

Before the wedding the boy is presented with a clihiip or of gold or silver with a small cup-like attachment.

mehar or dowry must be given


is

to the bride, the

amount

of which

The 50 or above Rs. 250. bride's parents give her cooking vessels, bedding and a After the wedding, the couple are seated on a bedstead. cot while the women sing songs, and they see each other's The procession returns after face reflected in a minor. a stay of four days, and is received by the women of the bridegroom's family with some humorous ceremonies bearing
not below Rs.

A feast called Tamm Walima on the nature of marriage. follows, and the couple are shut up together in an inner The marriage room, even though they may be under age. of the erection the as customs, such includes some Hindu oil, and turmeric with couple pandal or shed, rubbing the girl going A and the tying on of kankans or wrist-bands. wrong before marriage may be wedded with full rites so long as she has not conceived, but after conception until her child is born she cannot go through the ceremony at all. After the birth of the child she may be married simply She retains the child, but it has with the rite for widows.

A widow no claim to succeed to her husband's property. may marry again after an interval of forty days from her first husband's death, and she may wed her younger brotherin-law.

Divorce

is

permitted at the instance of either party,

and
will

A man usually divorces his mere disagreement. wife by vowing in the presence of two witnesses that he
for
in

future consider intercourse with

her as incestuous

in the

same degree

as with his mother.


if

divorced

woman

has a claim to her nieJiar or dowry

not already paid, but

man can marry the forfeits it if she marries again. The services of a Kazi at daughter of his paternal uncle. weddings are paid for with a fee of Rs. 1-4, and well-to-do
persons also give him a pair of turbans.

The
they

Ataris are

revere the

Muhammadans of the Sunni sect. They Muhammadan saints, and on the night of Shabrat
fireworks in honour of their ancestors and

3-

Religion.

let off

make

44

A TART
hnhva
^

part

offerings of
their tombs.
its flesh.
tail,

to

They swear by

The dog is and tongue are especially defiling. If the hair of a dog falls on the ground they cannot pray in that place
ears

them and place lamps and scent on the pig and abstain from eating considered an unclean animal and its

because the souls of the prophets cannot come there.


see a

To
start-

dog flapping

its

ears

is

a bad

omen, and a person

on a journey should postpone his departure. They esteem the spider, because they say it spread its web over the mouth of the cave where Hasan and Husain lay concealed from their enemies and thus prevented it from being searched. Some of them have Pirs or spiritual preceptors, these being
ing

Muhammadan beggars, not necessarily celibate. The ceremony of adhesion is that a man should drink sherbet from the
cup from which
his preceptor has drunk. They do not observe impurity after a death nor bathe on returning from a funeral. Liquor is of course prohibited to the Ataris as to other

Muhammadans, but some of them drink Some of them eat beef and others abstain.

it

nevertheless.

The blood of
rite

animals killed must flow before death according to the

of haldl, but they say that fish are an exception, because

when Abraham was


this offended

offering

up

his son

Ishmael and
it

God

sub-

stituted a goat, the goat bleated before

was

killed,

and
this

Abraham, who threw


struck

his sacrificial

knife into

the sea

the knife
all

and

killed

fish,

and on

account

fish

are considered to be haldl or lawful food


rite.

The Ataris observe the Hindu some of them worship Hindu deities, as Mata the goddess of smallpox. As a rule their women are not secluded. The Ataris make viissi or toothpowder from myrobalans, cloves and cardamoms, and other
without any further

law

of inheritance,

and

constituents.

This has the

effect of

blackening the teeth.

They

also sell the

on their foreheads,
the juice of limes.
tobacco.

kunku or red powder which women rub its constituents being turmeric, borax and

They

sell

scent and sometimes deal in

The

scents most

in

demand
tilli

are

giildb-pdni

or

rose-water and pJmlel or essence of


are usually sold by the tola of
'

or

sesamum.

Scents

8
-

annas

silver weight,^
tola
is

and

preparation of raisins and other


rice.

The ordinary

a rupee weight

fruits

and

or two-fifths of an ounce.

ir

A UP up: LIA

45

may vary in price from 8 annas to Rs. 8o. Other scents are made from klias-kkas grass, the mango, henna and music, the bela flower,^ the champak " and cucumber. Scent is manufactured by distillation from the flowers boiled in water, and the drops of congealed vapour fall into sandalwood oil, which they say is the basis of all scents. Fragrant oils are also sold for rubbing on the hair, made from orange flowers, jasmine, cotton-seed and the flowers of the aonla tree.^ Scent is sold in tiny circular glass bottles, and the oils in little bottles made from thin leather. The Ataris also retail the little black sticks of incense which are set up and burnt at the time of taking food and in temples, so that the smell and smoke may keep off evil spirits. When professional exorcists are called upon to clear any building, such as a hospital, supposed to be haunted by spirits or the ghosts of
a tola of attar

the dead, they

commence

operations by placing these sticks

of incense at the entrance and setting them alight as in a

temple.

Audhelia (Audhalia).
almost
exclusively
in

small

hybrid
District,

caste

found

i.

Origin.

the

Bilaspur

number about looo persons. The name is the word Udharia, meaning a person with clandestine sexual intimacies. The Audhelias are a mixed caste and trace their origin from a Daharia Rajput ancestor, by one BhQri Bandi, a female slave of unknown caste. This couple is
supposed to have resided in Ratanpur, the old capital of Chhattisgarh, and the female ancestors of the Audhelias are said to have been prostitutes until they developed into a caste and began to marry among themselves. Their proper
avocation at present
is

where they derived from

the rearing of pigs, while

some of

them are

and farm-labourers. Owing to the base descent and impure occupation of the caste they are held in very low esteem, and their touch is considered to convey pollution. The caste have at present no endogamous divisions and still admit members of other castes with the exception of the very lowest. But social gradations exist to a certain
also tenants
'

2.

Mar-

"^^^'

Jasrnimiin zainbac.
'^

"

Michelia chanipaca.

Phyllanthus

cinblica.

46

A UDHELIA
among
to

part
to the position of their
for

extent

the

members according
a

male

ancestors,

Daharia

Audhelia,

instance,

being

rekictant

eat or

intermarry with

Panka Audhelia.

Under these circumstances it has become a rule among the Audhelias not to eat with their caste-fellows excepting their

own

relations.

On

the occasion of a caste feast, therefore,

each guest prepares his own food, taking only uncooked At present seven gotras or exogamous grain from his host. divisions appear to have been formed in the caste with the names of Pachbhaiya, Chhahri, Kalkhor, Bachhawat, The following story exists Dhanawat, Bhainsa and Limuan. There were formerly three as to the origin of these gotras brothers, Sahasman, Budha and Mangal, who were Sansis One evening the three brothers halted in a or robbers. One brought back a forest and went to look for food. buffalo-horn, another a peacock's feather and the youngest, The other brothers asked Mangal Mangal, brought plums. plums, to which he agreed on condition his to let them share should give his daughter to him in that one of the brothers As Mangal and his brothers were of one gotra marriage.
:

or section,

and the marriage would thus involve

splitting

up

the gotra, the brothers were doubtful whether it could be They sought about for some sign to determine performed.
this difficult question,

in

breaking
split

in pieces
fist,
it

and decided that if Mangal succeeded an iron image of a cat simply by blows
sufficient indication that

of his naked

would be a
gotra.

they

might

up

"CaoAx

Mangal was

therefore put to the

ordeal and succeeded in breaking the image, so the three

brothers split up their gotra, the eldest assuming the gotra

name of Bhainsa because he had found a buffalo-horn, the second that of Kalkhor, which is stated to mean peacock, and the third that of Chhahri, which at any rate does not mean a The word Chhahri means either shadow,' or one plum.
' '

who washes
assume
it

the clothes of a

woman

in confinement.'

If

we

have the latter meaning, it may be due to the fact that Mangal had to wash the clothes of his own wife, not being able to induce a professional washerman to do so on account of the incestuous nature of the connection. As the eldest brother gave his daughter in an incestuous marriage he was also degraded, and became the ancestor
to

II

XTARRrAGE
it

47
is

of the Kanjars or prostitutes, who,

said, to the

present

day do not

Audhelias in consideration of the conThe story itself sufsanguinity existinc^ between tlicm. indicates the low and mixed descent of the ficiently Audhelias, and its real meaning may possibly be that when they first began to form a separate caste they permitted incestuous marriages on account of the paucity of A curious point about the story is that the their members. incestuous nature of the connection is not taken to be the most pressing objection to the marriage of Mangal with his
solicit

own

niece, but the violation of the caste rule prohibiting Bachhawat and Dhanawat marriage within the same gotra. are the names of sections of the Banjara caste, and the

persons of these gotras among the Audhelias are probably the The word descendants of illicit connections among Banjaras.

Pachbhaiya means five brothers,' and this name possibly commemorates a polyandrous connection of some Audhelia Limuan means a tortoise, which is a section of woman.
'

many castes.

Several of the section-names are thus totemistic,

some reverence is paid to the animal derived. At present the Audhelias from whom the name forbid marriage within the same gotra and also the union of Girls are married between five and seven years first cousins. of age as their numbers are scarce, and they are engaged as Unless weddings are arranged by exearly as possible. changing girls between two families, a high bride-price, often No stigma is inamounting to as much as Rs. 60, is paid.
and, as in other castes,
is

curred, however,
arrives
is

if

a girl should remain unmarried

till

she

at

adolescence, but, on the contrary, a higher price

then obtained for her.

Sexual licence either before or

after

marriage

is

considered a venial offence, but a

detected in a liaison with a

turned out of caste.


allowed.

woman man of one of the lowest castes is Widow marriage and divorce are freely
Devi, to

The Audhelias venerate Dulha Deo and


they usually offer pigs.
at

whom

3.

Religion,

which their women

Their principal festival is the Holi, were formerly engaged to perform as

^lath^"

professional dancers.

They

usually burn

their

dead and
into the

remove the ashes on the


nearest

third day, throwing

them

stream.

few of the bones are picked up and

48

AUDHELIA

part

ii

buried under a pipal tree, and a pitcher with a hole in the

bottom is hung on the tree so that water may trickle down On the tenth day the caste-people assemble on to them. and are shaved and bathe and rub their bodies with oil Unmarried men and persons dying of under the tree. cholera are buried, the head being placed to the north.

They

consider that
it

if

they place the corpse


insult to the

in

the reverse

position

would be an

kicking the holy river, as the feet be turned towards it.

Ganges equivalent to of the body would then

BADHAK
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
9,

Introductory notice.

Religion.
cestors.

Offering;s

to

an-

2.
3.

The Badhak
Further
ties.

dacoits.
10.

4.

Instances of dacoities. instances of

The

woiuided

haunted

by

dacoiII.
iiiendi1

spirits.

Pious funeral observances.

Disguise of religious
cants.

Taking

the omens.

13.
1

Suppressio7i of dacoity.

6.

7.

8.

Countenance and support of landowners. Pride in their profession. Caste rules a?id admission of
outsiders.

4.

The Badhaks or Baoris at the


present time.

15. Lisard-hunting.
16. 17.

Social observances.

Criminal practices.

A famous tribe of dacoits Badhak, Bagri, Baoria. flourished up to about who 1850, and extended their depredaNorthern and Central India. The whole of tions over the are Bawarias still exist and well Bagris and Baorias or
known
to

i.

intro-

^^l''^

the

police

as

inveterate

criminals

but their

operations are
cheating, and

now
their

confined to ordinary burglary, theft and

more
is

interesting
is

profession of

armed

gang-robbery on a large scale


first

a thing of the past.

The

Report on their suppression drawn up by Colonel Sleeman/ who may be regarded as the virtual founder of the Thuggee and Dacoity Department, Some mention of the existing Bagri and Baoria tribes is added at the end. The origin of the Badhaks is obscure, but they seem to have belonged to Gujarat, as their peculiar dialect, still in The most striking feature in it use, is a form of Gujarati. They claimed to be is the regular substitution of kh for s.
part of this article
'

entirely compiled from the

2.

The

jj^coit^^

Dacoits

Report on the Badhak or Bagri and the Measjtres adopted by

the

Government of India for Suppression, printed in 1849.

tlieir

VOL.

II

49

50

BADHAK

part

Rajputs and were divided into clans with the well-known Rajput names of Solanki, Panwar, Dhundhel, Chauhan, Their ancestors were Rathor, Gahlot, Bhatti and Charan. supposed to have fled from Chitor on one of the historical occasions on which it was assaulted and sacked. But as they spoke Gujarati it seems more probable that they belonged to Gujarat, a fertile breeding-place of criminals, and they may have been descended from the alliances of Rajputs
with the primitive tribes of this locality, the Bhils and Kolis.

The
this

existing Bagris are of short stature, one writer stating


;

that none of

them exceed five feet two inches in height and seems to indicate that they have little Rajput blood. It may be surmised that the Badhaks rose into importance and found scope for their predatory instincts during the period of general disorder and absence of governing authority through which northern India passed after the decline of the Mughal Empire. And they lived and robbed with the connivance or open support of the petty chiefs and landholders, to whom they gave a liberal share of their booty. The principal bands were located in the Oudh forests, but they belonged to the whole of northern India including the Central Provinces and as Colonel Sleeman's Report, though of much interest, is now practically unknown, I have thought it not out of place to compile an article by means of short extracts from his account of the tribe. In 1822 the operations of the Badhaks were being " No conducted on such a scale that an officer wrote District between the Brahmaputra, the Nerbudda, the Satlej and the Himalayas is free from them and within this vast field hardly any wealthy merchant or manufacturer could feel himself secure for a single night from the depredations of Badhak dacoits. They had successfully attacked so many
;

of the treasuries of our native Sub-Collectors that

it

was

deemed

necessary,

all

over the North-Western Provinces, to

In surround such buildings with extensive fortifications. many cases they carried off our public treasure from strong
parties of our regular troops

and mounted police

and none

seemed

to

know whence they came


'

or whither they fled with

the booty acquired."

Sleeman,

p.

10.

INSTANCES OF

I)

A CO /TIES

51
in-

Colonel Sleeman thus described a dacoity in the town of Narsinghpur when he was in charge of that District: "In February 1822, in the dusk of the evening, a party of about thirty persons, with nothing seemingly but walking-sticks in their hands, passed the piquet of sepoys on the bank of the rivulet which separates the cantonment from the town of Narsinghpur. On being challenged by the sentries they said they were cowherds and that their cattle were following Tliey walked up the street close behind. and coming opposite the houses of the most wealthy merchants, they set their torches in a blaze by blowing suddenly on pots filled with combustibles, stabbed everybody who ventured to move or make the slightest noise, plundered the houses, and in ten minutes were away with their booty, leaving about twelve persons dead and wounded on the ground. No trace of them was discovered." Another well-known exploit of the Badhaks was the attack on the palace of the ex-Peshwa, Baji Rao, at Bithur near Cawnpore. This was accomplished by a gang of about eighty men, who proceeded to the locality in the disguise of carriers of Ganges water. Having purchased a boat and a few muskets to intimidate the guard they crossed the Ganges about six miles below Bithur, and reached the place at ten o'clock at night and after wounding eighteen persons who attempted resistance they possessed themselves of property, chiefly in gold, to the value of more than two and a half lakhs of rupees and retiring without
; ;
;

3.

stances of
dacoities.

made their way in safety to their homes in the Oudh forests. The residence of this gang was known to a British police officer in the King of Oudh's service, Mr. Orr, and
loss

after a

long delay on the part of the court an expedition was sent which recovered a portion of the treasure and captured two or three hundred of the Badhaks. But none of the recovered property reached the hands of Baji Rao and the prisoners were soon afterwards released.^ Again in 1S39, a gang of about fifty men under a well-known leader, Gajraj, scaled the walls of Jhansi and plundered the Surafa or bankers' quarter of the town for two hours, obtaining booty to the value of Rs. 40,000, which they The following carried off without the loss of a man.
^

Sleeman,

p.

10.

Sleeman,

p. 57.

5-

BADHAK
:

account of this raid was obtained by Colonel Sleeman from one of the robbers ^ " The spy {hirrowd) having returned and reported that he had found a merchant's house in Jhansi which contained a good deal of property, we proceeded to a grove where we took the auspices by the process of akut (counting of grains) and found the omens We then rested three days and settled the favourable. Four rates according to which the booty should be shared. or five men, who were considered too feeble for the enterprise, were sent back, and the rest, well armed, strong and In the evening of the fourth day full of courage, went on. we reached a plain about a mile from the town, where we about nine o'clock we rested to take breath for an hour got to the wall and remained under it till midnight, preparing the ladders from materials which we had collected They were placed to the wall and we entered on the road. A marand passed through the town without opposition. riage procession was going on before us and the people We found the bankers' shops thought we belonged to it. Thana and Saldewa, who carried the axes, soon closed. broke them open, while Kulean lighted up his torch. Gajraj with twenty men entered, while the rest stood posted at the When all the prodifferent avenues leading to the place. perty they could find had been collected, Gajraj hailed the god Hanuman and gave orders for the retreat. W^e got back safely to Mondegri in two days and a half, and then reposed for two or three days with the Raja of Narwar,
;

with

whom we

left five

or six of our stoutest

men

as a guard,

and then returned home with our booty, consisting chiefly of diamonds, emeralds, gold and silver bullion, rupees and None of our people about sixty pounds of silver wire. were either killed or wounded, but whether any of the bankers' people were I know not." Colonel Sleeman writes elsewhere " of the leader of the " This Gajraj had risen from the vocation above exploit of a bandarwdla (monkey showman) to be the Robin Hood of Gwalior and the adjacent States he was the governorgeneral of banditti in that country of banditti and kept the whole in awe he had made himself so formidable that
: ; ;

Sleeman,

p.

95.

Sleeman,

p.

231.

II

FURTHER INSTANCES OF DA CO [TIES


Durbar ap[)ointcd him
and
to

53

the

to

keep the

g/idts or ferries over

the Chambal, which he did in a very profitable

manner

to

them

himself,

and

none entered or quitted

the

country without paying blackmail."


the Badhaks,

A common

practice of

when in need of a little ready money, was to lie in wait for money-changers on their return from the markets. These men take their bags of money with them
to the important bazars at a distance from
their residence

and return home with them after dusk. The dacoits were accustomed to watch for them in the darkest and most retired places on the roads and fell them to the ground with their bludgeons. This device was often practised and usually succeeded.^ Of another Badhak chief, Meherban, it
is

stated

"

that he hired a discharged sepoy to instruct his

followers in the
travel with

European system of
in

drill,

that they might


soldiers,

him

the

disguise of regular

well

Meherban's spies (Jtirrowa) were sent to visit the great commercial towns and report any despatches of money or other valuables, which were to take place during the following open season. His own favourite disguise was that of a Hindu prince, while the remainder of the gang constituted his retinue and escort. On one occasion, assuming this character, he followed up a boat laden with Spanish dollars which was being sent from Calcutta to Benares and having attacked it at its moorings at Makrai, he killed one and wounded ten men of the guard and made off with 25,000 Spanish dollars and Rs. 2600 of the Company's coinage. part of the band were sent direct to the rendezvous previously arranged, while Meherban returned to the grove where he had left his women and proceeded with them in a more leisurely fashion to the same place. Retaining the character of a native prince he halted here for two days to celebrate the Holi festival. Marching thence with his women conveyed in covered litters by hired bearers who were changed at intervals, he proceeded to his bivouac in the Oudh forests and at Seosagar, one of his halting-places, he gave a large sum of money to a gardener to plant a grove of mango trees near a tank for the benefit of travellers, in the name of Raja Meherban Singh of Gaur
rains
;

armed and accoutred.

During the

Sleeman,

p.

217.

'^

Sleeman,

p. 20.

54 in

BADHAK
Oudh
;

part

and promised him further alms on future occaif he found the work progressing well, saying that it was a great shame that travellers should be compelled as he had been to halt without shade for themsions of pilgrimage
families during

selves or their

the heat of the day.

He

arrived safely at his quarters in the forest and


in the

was received

customary fashion by a procession of women in their best attire, who conducted him with dancing and music, like
a victorious
5.

Roman

Proconsul, to his
all

fort.^

Badhaks could do things in the Style of Meherban Singh. The disguise which they mendF"^ most often assumed in the north was that of carriers of cants. Ganges water, while in Central India they often pretended
Disguise

But naturally not

the

to be Banjaras travelling with pack-bullocks, or pilgrims, or

fetch the bride or bridegroom. took the character of religious mendicants, the leader being the high priest and all the rest his followers and disciples. One such gang, described by Colonel Sleeman," had four or five tents of white and dyed cloth, two or three pairs of 7iakkdras or kettle-drums and trumpets, with a great number of buffaloes, cows, goats, sheep and ponies. Some were clothed, but the bodies of the greater part were covered with nothing but ashes, paint and a small cloth waistband. But they always provided themselves with five or six real Bairagis, whose services they purchased at a very high price. These men were put forward to answer questions in case of difficulty and
to

wedding -parties going Sometimes also they

and peasantry and if the people demurred to the demands of the Badhaks, to intimidate them by tricks calculated to play upon the fears of the ignorant. They held in their hands a preparation of gunpowder resembling common ashes and when they found
to bully the landlords
;

the people very stubborn they repeated their viafttras over

and threw it upon the thatch of the nearest house, to which it set fire. The explosion was caused by a kind of fusee held in the hand which the people could not see, and taking it for a miracle they paid all that was demanded. Another method was to pretend to be carrying the bones of dead relatives to the Ganges. The bones or ashes of
this
'

Sleeman,

p.

21.

Sleeman,

p.

81.

II

COUNTENANCE AND
deceased,
in

S(/P/'0/CT

OE LANDOWNERS

55

Slceman, are carried to the for females and white for males. These bags are considered holy, and are not allowed to touch the ground upon the way, and during halts in The carriers the journey are placed on poles or triangles. are regarded with respect as persons engaged upon a When pious duty, and seldom questioned on the road. a gang assumed this disguise they proceeded to their place of rendezvous in small parties, some with red and some with white bags, in which they carried the bones of
the

says

'

Colonel

Ganges

bags, coloured

red

These animals most resembling those of the human frame. were supported on triangles formed of the shafts on which
the spear -heads would

be

fitted

when they reached

their

destination and had prepared for action.


It would have been impossible for the Badhaks to exist and flourish as they did without the protection of the landowners on whose estates they lived and this they received in full measure in return for a liberal share of their booty, When the chief of Karauli was called upon to dislodge a gang witliin his territory, he expressed apprehension that the coercion of the Badhaks might cause a revolution in the He was not at all singular, says Colonel Sleeman, in State.
;

6.

Counte-

"l^lj'^sup.

port of
o^wners.

his fear of exasperating


It

this

formidable tribe

of robbers.

was common

to all

the smaller chiefs and the provincial

governors of the larger ones.

They everywhere

protected
;

and fostered the Badhaks, as did the landholders and the highest of them associated with the leaders of gangs on terms It was very common for a chief of equality and confidence. or the governor of a district in times of great difficulty and personal danger to require from one of the leaders of such gangs a night-guard or palmig ki chauki and no less so to entertain large bodies of them in the attack and defence of forts and camps whenever unusual courage and skill were The son of the Raja of Charda exchanged turbans required. with a Badhak leader, Mangal Singh, as a mark of the most
:

an alliance of and indeed it would not be difficult to find several points of resemblance between the careers of the more enterprising Badhak leaders and the
intimate
friendship.

This

episode recalls
;

similar character in

Lorna

Doom

'

Sleeman,

p.

82.

56

BADHAK
;

part

the

Doones of Bagworthy but India produced no character on model of John Ridd, and it was reserved for an
Englishman, Colonel Sleeman, to achieve the suppression of
After the fortress

the Badhaks as well as that of the Thugs.

and territory of Garhakota in Saugor had been taken by the Maharaja Sindhia, Zalim Singh, a cousin of the dispossessed Bundela chief, collected a force of Bundelas and Pindaris and ravaged the country round Garhakota in 1 8 1 3. In the course of his raid he sacked and burnt the town of Deori, and i 5,000 Colonel Jean Baptiste, persons perished in the flames. Sindhia's general, obtained a number of picked Badhaks from Rajputana and offered them a rich reward for the head of Zalim Singh and after watching his camp for three months they managed to come on him asleep in the tent of a dancing-girl, who was following his camp, and stabbed him to the heart. For this deed they received Rs. 20,000 Their reputafrom Baptiste with other valuable presents. tion was indeed such that they were frequently employed at this period both by chiefs who desired to take the lives of others and by those who were anxious for the preservation of their own. When it happened that a gang was caught after a robbery in a native State, the custom was not infrequently to make them over to the merchant whose property they had taken, with permission to keep them in confinement until they should refund his money and in this manner by giving up the whole or a part of the proceeds of their robbery Even if they were they were enabled to regain their liberty. sent before the courts, justice was at that time so corrupt
; ;

as to permit of easy avenues of escape for those


afford to

who

could

and Colonel Sleeman records the deposition of " When police a Badhak describing their methods of briber}^ officers arrest Badhaks their old women get round them and give them large sums of money and they either release them

pay

or get their depositions so written that their release shall be

brought to court, at a distance of three or four miles with a thousand or two thousand rupees upon ponies and these rupees they distribute among
If they are

ordered by the magistrates.

their old

women, dressed
;

in

rags, follow

them

the native officers of the court and get the Badhaks released.

These old women

first

ascertain from the people of the villages

II

PRIDE IN TIIFJR PROFESSION


are

57

and Munshis of influence, and wait If the and make their bargains. officials cannot effect their release, they take money from the old women and send them off to the Sadar Court, with letters of introduction to their friends, and advice as to the rate they shall pay to each according to his supposed influence. This is the way that all our leaders get released, and hardly any but useless men are left in confinement." It may be noticed that these robbers took the utmost pleasure in their calling, and were most averse to the idea of " Some of the giving it up and taking to honest pursuits. men with me," one magistrate wrote," " have been in jail for twenty, and one man for thirty years, and still do not appear even to have any idea of abandoning their illegal vocation now, indeed, they look on what we consider an honest means of livelihood with the most marked contempt and in relating
the

who

Nazirs

upon them

at their houses

7.

Pride in

profession.

their

excursions talk of them with


in the

the

greatest pleasure,

much
to

way an eager sportsman


While talking of
very
interesting,
their

describes a boar-chase

or fox-hunt.

their excursions,

me

really
;

their

eyes
their

pleasure

and beating

hands on

which were gleamed with foreheads and

breasts and muttering

some

ejaculation they bewailed the

hardness of their lot, which now ensured their never again being able to participate in such a joyous occupation." Another Badhak, on being examined, said he could not
recall a case of

one of the community having ever given up


"

the trade of dacoity.

None

ever did,

am

certain of

it,

he continued.^

"

After having been arrested, on our release

appear we have left off it is only done as a feint and to enable our zamindars (landowners) to screen us." They sometimes paid rent for their land at the rate of thirty rupees an acre, in return for the countenance and
frequently take lands, to
it

we

make

dacoity, but

we never do

so in reality

protection

afforded

by the zamindars.
"

"

Our

profession,"

been a PadsJidhi Kdin (a king's trade) we have attacked and seized boldly the thousands and hundreds of thousands that we have freely
another Badhak remarked,'*
;

has

Sleeman, Sleeman,
letter

p.

152.

from a

This passage is written by a magistrate,


p. 127.

Mr. Ramsay. Sleeman, * Sleeman,


-^

p.
p.

129. 112.

58

BADHAK
;

part

and nobly spent we have been all our lives wallowing in wealth and basking in freedom, and find it hard to manage At the with the few copper pice a day we get from you," time when captures were numerous, and the idea was entertained of inducing the dacoits to settle in villages and supporting them until they had been trained to labour, several of them, on being asked how much they would require to support themselves, replied that they could not manage on less than two rupees a day, having earned quite that sum by This amount would be more than twenty times the dacoity. wages of an ordinary labourer at the same period. Another witness put the amount at one to two rupees a day, remarking, We are great persons for eating and drinking, and we Of some of keep several wives according to our means.' mentions had a high opinion, and he them Colonel Sleeman was drafted into the the case of one man, Ajit Singh, who " I native army and rose to be commander of a company. " whom I would have seldom seen a man," he wrote,^ An rather have with me in scenes of peril and difficulty."
'

attempt of the King of Oudh's, however, to form a regiment of Badhaks had ended in failure, as after a short time they mutinied, beat their commandant and other officers and
turned them out of the regiment, giving as their reason that the officers had refused to perform the same duties as the

men.

And

they visited with the same treatment

all

the

other officers sent to them, until they were disbanded by the British on the province of Allahabad being made over to
the

Company.

Colonel Sleeman notes that they were never


to females than

known to offer any other violence or insult to make them give up any gold ornaments

that they might

" In all my inquiries into the have about their persons. character, habits and conduct of these gangs, I have never found an instance of a female having been otherwise disThey are all Hindus, and this graced or insulted by them. Accordall Hindu society." " for the sex pervades reverence committed murder own never their account also they ing to if people opposed them they struck and killed like soldiers, but this was considered to be in fair fight. It may be noted, nevertheless, that they had little idea of clan loyalty, and
;

Sleeman,

p.

124.

Sleem.an, p. 125.

II

CASTE RULES AND ADMISSION OF OUTSIDERS

59

was

informed very freely against their fellows when this course They also stated that they could to their advantage.
in

not settle

live in the jungles

towns they had always been accustomed to and commit dacoitics upon the people of
;

the towns as a kind of shikar (sport)

they delighted

in

it,

towns or among other men as a kind of prison, and got quite confused {ghabrdye), and their women even more than the men. The Badhaks had a regular caste organisation, and members of the different clans married with each other like They admitted the Rajputs after whom they were named. freely into the community members of any respectable Hindu caste, but not the impure castes or Muhammadans. But at least one instance of the admission of a Muhammadan is given.^ The Badhaks were often known to the people as Siarkhavva or jackal-eaters, or Sabkhawa, those

and they

felt living in

8.
I

Caste
H

I^'^^^ig^"^,,

ofout-

who

eat everything.

And

the

Muhammadan

in

question

was given jackal's flesh to eat, and having partaken of it was considered to have become a member of the comThis indicates that the Badhaks were probably munity. accustomed to eat the flesh of the jackal at a sacrificial meal, and hence that they worshipped the jackal, revering it probably as the deity of the forests where they lived. Such a veneration would account for the importance The fact of their attached to the jackal's cry as an omen. eating jackals also points to the conclusion that the Badhaks were not Rajputs, but a low hunting caste like the Pardhis and Bahelias. The Pardhis have Rajput sept names as well as the Badhaks. No doubt a few outcaste Rajputs may Others, have joined the gangs and become their leaders. however, said that they abstained from the flesh of jackals, Children were snakes, foxes and cows and buffaloes. frequently adopted, being purchased in large numbers in They time of famine, and also occasionally kidnapped. were brought up to the trade of dacoity, and if they showed sufficient aptitude for it were taken out on expeditions,
but otherwise
left at

home
to

to

manage

the household affairs.


children
like

They were married known as Ghulami

other adopted

or
^

Slave
Sleeman,
p.

Badhaks,
147.

the

and were Jangar

6o

BADHAK
;

part

9.

Reii-

them also, after some generations, when had been forgotten, they became full Badhaks. It was very advantageous to a Badhak to have a number of children, because all plunder obtained was divided in regularly apportioned shares among the whole Men who were too old to go on dacoity also community. received their share, and all children, even babies born The Badhaks said during the absence of the expedition. that this rule was enforced because they thought it an advantage to the community that families should be large from which statement and their numbers should increase it must be concluded that they seldom suffered any strinThey also stated that Badhak gency from lack of spoil. widows would go and find a second husband from among the regular population, and as a rule would sooner or later persuade him to join the Badhaks. Like other Indian criminals the Badhaks were of a very
Banjaras

and

like

their

real

origin

^!?".' . offerings to

religious or superstitious disposition. ^ ^


=
_

considered They '


_

the

ancestors,

gods of the Hindu creed as favouring their undertakings so long as they were suitably propitiated by offering to their temples and priests, and the spirits of the most
distinguished
of their

ancestors

as

exercising a

vicarious

authority under these deities in guiding them to their prey

and warning them of danger.^


of a

The
to

following

is

an account

Badhak

sacrifice

given

Colonel

Sleeman by the

It was in celebration of a which they had obtained Rs. 40,000, out of which Rs. 4500 were set aside for sacrifices to the gods " For offerings AjTt Singh said and charity to the poor. to the gods we purchase goats, sweet cakes and spirits and having prepared a feast we throw a handful of the savoury food upon the fire in the name of the gods who have most assisted us but of the feast so consecrated female but a virgin can partake. The offering is made no through the man who has successfully invoked the god and, as my god had guided us on that particular occasion this time, I was employed to prepare the feast for him The offering must and to throw the offering upon the fire. be taken up before the feast is touched and put upon the

Ajit Singh already mentioned.

dacoity in

'

Sleeman,

p.

104.

II

Ol'FERINGS TO ANCESTORS
and a
little

6i

fire,

smell of the food as

water must be sprinkled on it. The savoury it burns feaches the nostrils of the j^od

on most occasions I invoked grandfather, and to him I I considered him to be the greatest made the offering. of all my ancestors as a robber, and him I invoked on this He never failed me when I invoked him, solemn occasion. and I had the greatest confidence in his aid. The spirits of our ancestors can easily see whether we shall succeed in what we are about to undertake and when we are to succeed they order us on, and when we are not they make Their mode of ascertaining which signs to us to desist." of their ancestors interested himself most in their affairs was commonly this, that whenever a person talked incoherently in a fever or an epileptic fit, the spirit of one or other of his ancestors was supposed to be upon him. If they were in doubt as to whose spirit it was, one of them threw down some grains of wheat or coloured glass beads,

and delights him.


the spirit of

On

this as

Ganga Singh, my

a pinch at a time, saying the name of the ancestor he supposed the most likely to be at work and calling odd If the number proved to be as or even as he pleased. he called it several times running while that name was repeated, they felt secure of their family god, and proceeded at once to sacrifice a goat or something else in his name. When they were being hunted down and arrested by Colonel Sleeman and his assistants, they ascribed their misfortunes to the anger of the goddess Kali, because they had infringed her rules and disregarded her signs, and said that their forefathers had often told them they would one day be punished for their disobedience." Whenever one of the gang was wounded and was taken with his wounds bleeding near a place haunted by a spirit, they believed the spirit got angry and took hold of him,^ in the manner described by Ajit Singh as follows: "The spirit comes upon him in all kinds of shapes, sometimes in that of a buffalo, at others in that of a woman, sometimes in the air above and sometimes from the ground below but no one can see him except the wounded person
;

lo.

The

hTumed'^b
spirits.

Sleeman,

p.

no.
^

Sleeman,

p.

131.

Sleeman,

p.

205.

62

BADHAK
is

part

he

wounded person we always

Upon such a angry with and wants to punish. ^lace a naked sword or some
much
afraid of

other sharp steel instrument, as spirits are

If there be any good conjurer at weapons of this kind. hand to charm away the spirits from the person wounded

In one case he recovers, but nothing else can save him." a dacoit named Ghlsa had been severely wounded in an

encounter and was seized by the spirit of a banyan tree " We made a litter with our as he was being taken away cloaks thrown over them and on this he was ropes and
:

by four of our party at half a mile distant the road passed under a large banyan tree and as the four men carried him along under the tree, the spirit of the place fell
carried off
;

upon him and the four men who


the shock.

carried

him

fell

They

could not raise him again, so

down with much were

they frightened, and four other

and carry him


after
this Ajit

men were obliged to lift him The man died of his wounds soon they reached the halting-place, and in commenting on
off."
:

" When the spirit seized Ghisa Singh continued under the tree we had unfortunately no conjurer, and he, It was evident that a poor fellow, died in consequence. spirit had got hold of him, for he could not keep his head upright it always fell down upon his right or left shoulder and he complained as often as we tried to put it right
; ;

much

of a pain in the region of the


spirit

liver.

We

therefore

concluded that the


II. Pious

had broken

his

neck and was

funeral ob-

servances.

consuming his liver." Like pious Hindus as they were, the Badhaks w^ere preserve the bones to r accustomcd, whcncvcr it was possible, r been burnt dead after the body had and carry them their of and the If this was not possible, however, Ganges, to the them to make away of their profession obliged exigencies funeral rites, with the body without the performance of due the Ganges they cut off two or three fingers and sent these to In one case a to be deposited instead of the whole body.^ dacoit, Kundana, was killed in an affray, and the others carried off his body and thrust it into a porcupine's hole " We gave Kundana's after cutting off three of the fingers. fingers to his mother," Ajit Singh stated, " and she sent them
>

'

Sleeman,

p.

io6.

11

TAKING THE OMENS


priest.

63

with due offerings and ceremonies to the Ganges by the

hands of the family

She gave

this priest

money

to

purchase a cow, to be presented to the priests in the name of her deceased son, and to distribute in charity to the poor and She got from us for these purposes eighty to holy men. rupees over and above her son's share of the booty, while
his

widow and

children

continued to receive their usual

share of the takings of the gang so long as they remained

with us."
Before setting out on an expedition it was their regular custom to take the omens, and the following account may be quoted of the preliminaries to an expedition of the great leader, Meherban Singh, who has already been mentioned " In the latter end of that year, Meherban and his brother set out and assembled their friends on the bank of the Bisori river, where the rate at which each member of the party should share in the spoil was determined in order to secure to the dependants of any one who should fall in the enterprise their due share, as well as to prevent inconvenient disputes during and after the expedition. The party assembled on this occasion, including women and children, amounted to two hundred, and when the shares had been Each determined the goats were sacrificed for the feast. leader and member of the gang dipped his finger in the blood and swore fidelity to his engagements and his associates under all circumstances. The v^hole feasted together and drank freely till the next evening, when Meherban advanced with about twenty of the principal persons to a spot chosen a little way from the camp on the road they proposed to take in the expedition, and lifting up his hands in supplication said aloud, If it be thy will, O God, and thine, Kali, to prosper our undertaking for the sake of the blind and the lame, tJie widoiv and tJie orpJian, who depend upon our exertions for subsistence, vouchsafe, we pray thee,
: '

12-

Taking

the

call

of the female jackal.'


in

their
after

hands
him.

the

All his followers held up same manner and repeated these words

All then sat

the reply or spoke only in whispers.


the female jackal
believing

down and waited in At last

silence for

the cry of

her

to

was heard three times on the left, and have been inspired by the deity for

64
their

BADHAK
guidance they were
all

part
rejoiced."

much

The
of

follow-

ing was another more elaborate method of taking described

omens
seeking

by Ajit Singh

"

When we

speak

omens from our gods


dacoity
in

or Devi Deota,

we mean

the spirits

of those of our ancestors


lasting reputations.

who

performed great exploits in

name and established For instance, Mahajit, my grandfather, and Sahiba, his father, are called gods and admitted to We have all of us some such gods to be be so by us all. proud of among our ancestors we propitiate them and ask for favourable omens from them before we enter upon any enterprise. We sometimes propitiate the Suraj Deota (sun god) and seek good omens from him. We get tv/o or three goats or rams, and sometimes even ten or eleven, at the place where we determine to take the auspices, and having assembled the principal men of the gang we put water into the mouth of one of them and pray to the sun and to our ancestors thus And O thou Sun God If we are to succeed in the enterO all ye other Gods prise we are about to undertake we pray you to cause these goats to shake their bodies.' If they do not shake them after the gods have been thus duly invoked, the enterprise must not be entered upon and the goats are not
their day, gained a great
; '
: !
!

We then try the auspices with wheat. We burn frankincense and scented wood and blow a shell and taking out a pinch of wheat grains, put them on the cloth and count them. If they come up odd the omen is favourable, and if even it is bad. After this, which we call the the Akut, auspices of we take that of the Siarni or female
sacrificed.
;

jackal.

If

it

calls

on the

left it is

good, but
in

if

on the right
three trials

bad.

If the

omens turn out favourable


fear whatever, but
if

all

then

we have no

able in only one

trial

they are favourout of the three the enterprise must be

given up."
13.

Sup^

dacoTt"

Between 1837 and 1849 the suppression of the regular armed dacoity was practically achieved by Colonel Sleeman. A number of officers were placed under his orders, and with small bodies of military and police were set to hunt down different bands of dacoits, following them all over India when necessary. And special Acts were passed to
practice of

II

HA 1)11A KS OR liAORlS AR

TllJi J'RKSJiNI'

77/1//:'

65

enable the offence of dacoity, wherever committed, to


tried

be

any part of India as had by done in the case of the Thugs. Many of the Badhaks been conditional pardons, and were drafted into the police received in different stations, and an agricultural labour colony was also formed, but does not seem to have been altogether successful. During these twelve years more than 1200 dacoits in all were brought to trial, while some were killed during the operations, and no doubt many others escaped and took to other avocations, or became ordinary criminals when their armed gangs were broken up. In 1825 it had
a com[)ctent magistrate in

been estimated that the

4000

Oudh forests alone contained from 6000 dacoits, while the property stolen in 8 from known dacoities was valued at ten lakhs of rupees. The Badhaks still exist, and are well known as one
to
1
i

m- The
o'rBaori's
at the

of

the

worst

classes

of

criminals,

practising

ordinary

house-breaking and theft. The name Badhak is now less commonly used than those of Bagri and Baori or Bawaria, both of which were borne by the original Badhaks. The

time!"

word Bagri
which
it

is

derived from a tract of country in


as the
all
'

Malwa

is

known

is

surrounded on

Bagar or hedge of thorns,' because sides by wooded hills.^ There are

Bagri Jats and Bagri Rajputs,


respectable landholders.

many

of

whom

are
is

now highly

Bawaria or Baori

derived from

bdnwar, a creeper, or the tendril of a vine, and hence a noose made originally from some fibrous plant and used for trapping animals, this being one of the primary occupations of the tribe.^ The term Badhak signifies a hunter or fowler, hence a robber or murderer (Platts). The Bagris and Bawarias are sometimes considered to be separate communities, but it is doubtful whether there is any real distinction between them. In Bombay the Bagris are known as Vaghris by the common change of b into v. good description of them is contained in Appendix C to Mr. Bhimbhai Kirparam's volume Hindus of Gujarat in the Bombay Gazetteer. He divides them into the Chunaria or lime-burners, the Datonia or sellers of twig tooth-brushes, and two other groups, and states that, " They also keep

Malcolm's
ii.

Memoir

of

Central

India,

p.

479.
II

^ Ciooke's Bawaria.

Tribes

and

Castes, art.

VOL.

66

BADHAK
and
sell

part

fowls

eggs, catch
traffic

birds

and

hunters.

They

in

green

parrots,

go as shikaris or which they buy

15. Lizardhunting

from Bhils and sell for a profit." Their strength and powers of endurance are great, the same writer states, and they consider that these qualities are obtained by the eating of the goh and sdndJia or iguana lizards, which a Vaghri prizes very highly. This is also the case with the Bawarias of the Punjab, who go out hunting lizards in the rains and may be seen returning with baskets full of live lizards, which exist for days without food and are killed and eaten fresh by degrees. Their metnod of hunting the lizard is described by Mr. Wilson as follows ^ " The lizard lives on grass, cannot bite severely, and is sluggish in his movements, so that he is easily caught. He digs a hole for himself of no great depth, and the
:

easiest

way

to take

him

is

to

look
;

out for the scarcely

perceptible airhole and dig

him out

but there are various

this trouble. One, which I have advantage of a habit the lizard has in cold weather (when he never comes out of his hole) of coming The Chuhra or other to the mouth for air and warmth. sportsman puts off his shoes and steals along the prairie This he approaches on till he sees signs of a lizard's hole. tiptoe, raising over his head with both hands a mallet with a round sharp point, and fixing his eyes intently upon the hole. When close enough he brings down his mallet with all his might on the ground just behind the mouth of the hole, and is often successful in breaking the lizard's Another back before he awakes to a sense of his danger. plan, which I have not seen, is to tie a wisp of grass to a long stick and move it over the hole so as to make

ways of saving oneself


takes

seen,

rustling noise.
!

The

lizard
in,'

within thinks,
so that he
his tail

Oh

here's

snake

may

as well give
tail

and comes to the mouth of

the hole, putting out his


executioner.

first

may

not see his

The sportsman

seizes

and snatches him

This common fondness for lizards is a point in favour of a connection between the Gujarat Vaghris and the Punjab Bawarias. In Sirsa the great mass of the Bawarias are not given to
out before he has time to learn his mistake."
^

Sirsa Settlement Report.

II

SOCIAL O USE RVA NCESCRIM 1 NA I

I'NACl'lCliS

67
)'>.

crime, and in Gujarat also they

do not appear

to have s[)ccial

Suti.ii

criminal

tendencies.

It

is

a curious point, however, that

''^^^l^'

Mr. Bhimbhai

Kirparam emphasises the chastity of the

women of the Gujarat Vagjhris.^ " When a family returns home after a money-making tour to Bombay or some other city, the women are taken before Vihat (Devi), and with the women is brought a buffalo or a sheep that is tethered in They must confess all, even their front of Vihat's shrine.
slightest shortcomings, such as the following
'
:

Two

weeks

when begging in Parsi Bazar-street, a drunken sailor caught me by the hand. Another day a Miyan or Musalmiin
ago,

ogled me, and forgive me, Devi,


If

Devi

is

satisfied the

my looks encouraged him.' sheep or buffalo shivers, and is then


"
""

sacrificed

On the other and provides a feast for the caste. hand, Mr. Crooke states^ that in northern India, "The standard of morality is very low because in Muzaffarnagar it is extremely rare for a Bawaria woman to live with her
husband.
but
the
official

Almost invariably she lives with another man husband is responsible for the children."
:

The

great difference in the standard of morality

is

certainly

surprising.

In Gujarat"* the Vaghris have gurus or


ceptors of their own.
piece and whisper in the ear of their disciples
.

religious presilver

These men take an eight-anna


"

Be immortal."

"The Bhuvas or priest- mediums play an important many Vaghri ceremonies. A Bhuva is a male child born after the mother has made a vow to the goddess Vihat
.
.

part in

or Devi that

if

a son be granted to her she will devote him

to the service of the goddess.


his hair

No Bhuva may

cut or shave

on pain of a fine of ten rupees, and no Bhuva may eat carrion or food cooked by a Muhammadan." The criminal Bagris still usually travel about in the disguise of Gosains and Bairagis, and are very difficult of Their housedetection except to real religious mendicants. Gjdn, but in as breaking implement or jemmy is known sounds like that it speaking of it they always add Das, so
1 It would appear that the Gujarat Vaghris are a distinct class from the

17-

Crim-

practices,

^ Ajj-, Bawaria, quoting from North Indian Notes and Queries, i. 5 1

criminal section of the tribe.


2

Bombay
514.

Gazetteer,

Gujarat Hin-

Bombay
p.

Gazetteer,

Hindus

of

dtis, p.

Gujarat,

574.

68

BADHAK
name
of a Bairagi.^

part

the

They

are usually very

much

afraid

gydn being discovered on their persons, and are careful to bury it in the ground at each halting-place, while on the march it may be concealed in a pack-saddle. The means of identifying them, Mr. Kennedy remarks,'^ is by their family dco or god, which they carry about when wandering with their families. It consists of a brass or copper box containing grains of wheat and the seeds of a creeper, both soaked The box with a peacock's feather in ghi (melted butter). and a bell is wrapped in two white and then in two red
of the

one of the white cloths having the print of a man's in goat's blood upon it. The grains of wheat are used for taking the omens, a few being thrown up at sundown and counted afterwards to see whether they are odd When even, two grains are placed on the right or even. hand of the omen -taker, and if this occurs three times running the auspices are considered to be favourable.^ Mr. Gayer ^ notes that the Badhaks have usually from one to three brands from a hot iron on the inside of their left wrist. Those of them who are hunters brand the muscles of the
cloths,

hand dipped

left

wrist

in

order to steady the hand

when

firing

their

matchlocks.
small
teeth,

The customs

of wearing a peculiar necklace of


fixed to the front

wooden beads and a kind of gold pin

which Mr. Crooke ^ records as having been prevalent some years ago, have apparently been since abandoned, as they are not mentioned in more recent accounts. The Dehliwal and Malpura Baorias have, Mr. Kennedy states,^ an interesting system of signs, which they mark on the walls of buildings at important corners, bridges and crossroads and on the ground by the roadside with a stick, if no building is handy. The commonest is a loop, the straight
line

indicating
:

the

direction

gang or individual

has

taken

IIL

'

Gunlhorpe's Criminal Tribes.

* ^

C. P. Police Lccliircs, art.

Badhak.

'^

n J Presidency, p. 151.
^

Criminal Classes in ike Bombay J'


art.

^^[_ hawaria, i)aia. 12.


'

-,^-

Gunthorpe's Criminal Tribes, Badhak.

"

Criminal Classes in the Bombay

Presidency, p. 179.

II

HA I INA
number of
it

69

Tlic addition of a
sii^nifics

vertical strokes inside the loop


If these strokes

the luiinber of males in a gang.

are enclosed by a circle


in

means

that the

gang

is

encamped

the vicinity

while a square inside a circle and line as

below means that property has been secured by friends who

have
miles
left in

the direction pointed by the

line.

It is

said that

Baorias will follow one another up for

fifty

or even a hundred

by means of these hieroglyphics.


will

The
in

signs are bold

marks, sometimes even a foot or more

length,

and are
the

made where they

at

once catch the eye.

When

Murwari Baorias desire

to indicate to others of their caste,

who may
as

follow in their footsteps, the route taken, a

member
the dust

of the gang, usually a

woman,

trails

a stick

in

she walks along, leaving a spiral track on the ground. Another method of indicating the route taken is to place leaves under stones at intervals along the road.^ The form of crime most in favour among the ordinary Baoris is housebreaking by night. Their common practice is to make a hole in the wall beside the door through which the hand passes to raise the latch and only occasionally they dig a hole in the base of the wall to admit of the passage of a man,
;

while another favoured alternative

is

to

break

in

through a

barred window, the bars being quickly and forcibly bent and

drawn

out.^

One

class

of Marwari Bagris are also expert

coiners.

Bahna, Pinjara, Dhunia.^ The occupational caste of The Bahnas numbered 48,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berar in 191 1. The large
cotton-cleaners.

i.

Nomen-

|^,-,^eJ^^^i^"

stmciure.

increase in the

number of
to

ginning-factories has ruined the

Bahna's trade of cleaning hand-ginned cotton, and as no


distinction

attaches

the

that

members of
loc. cit.

the caste

name of Bahna it who have taken to


it

is

possible

other occu-

pations
1
'^

may have abandoned


p.
p.

and returned themselves

Kennedy, Kennedy,
This

208.

loc. cit.

article is

185. partly based on a

paper by Munshi Kanhya Lai of the Gazetteer office.

JO

BANNA

TART

The three names Bahna, Pinjara, simply as Muhammadans, Dhunia appear to be used indifferently for the caste in this Province, though in other parts of India they are disPinjara is derived from the word pinjan used tinguished. for a cotton-bow, and Dhunia is from dJnmna, to card cotton. The
caste
is

also

known

as

Dhunak
religion,

Pathani.
still

Though

have many Hindu customs and ceremonies, and in the matter of inheritance our courts have held that they are subject to In Raipur a girl Hindu and not Muhammadan law.^
professing the

Muhammadan

they

receives half the share of a

boy

in

the division of inherited

property.

The
is

caste appears to be a
into

mixed occupational
subcastes

group, and
after

split

many
of

territorial

named

country from which its members have come, as Badharia from Badhas in Mirzapur,
the
different

parts

the

Sarsutia from the Saraswati river, Berari of Berar,

Dakhni

from the Deccan, Telangi from Madras, Pardeshi from northern India, and so on. Two groups are occupational, the Newaris of Saugor, who make the thick newdr tape used for the webbing of beds, and the Kanderas, who make
fireworks and generally constitute a separate caste.
is

There
In

considerable ground for supposing that the Bahnas are


oil-pressers.
^

mainly derived from the caste of Telis or


the Punjab Sir D. Ibbetson says

that the Penja or cotton-

scutcher

is

an

occupational
;

name

applied

to

Telis

who

and that the Penja, Kasai and Teli Similarly in Nasik the Telis are all of the same caste. and Pinjaras are said to form one community, under the government of a single panchayat. In cases of dispute or misconduct the usual penalty is temporary excommunication, which is known as the stopping of food and water.^ The Telis are an enterprising community of very low status, and would therefore be naturally inclined to take to other occupations many of them are shopkeepers, cultivators and landholders, and it is quite probable that in past times they took up the Bahna's profession and changed their religion with the hope of improving their social status.
follow this profession
;

'

Sir

\'>.

Robertson's

C.P.

Census
(1881),

/Report (1
'^

89 1), p. 203. Punjab Census Rep07-l

paras. 646, 647. ^ Ni'isik Gazetteer, pp. 84, 85.

II

MARRIAGE
are generally considered
to be

71

The TcHs
talkative,

quarrelsome and

and

the
If

Bahnas
one
or
'

or

Dhunias

have
'

the

same

characteristics.

man

Billingsgate,

the other will


Jdno,'

abusing another lapses into Hainko JuldJia say to him,

Dhunia

neJi

Don't talk to

me

as

if

u^as

a
Mar-

Juliiha or a Dhunia.'

Some Bahnas have exogamous sections with Hindu names, while others are without these, and simply regulate They have the their marriages by rules of relationship. primitive Hindu custom of allowing a sister's son to marry A man cannot a brother's daughter, but not vice versa. marry his wife's younger sister during her lifetime, nor her Children of the same fosterelder sister at any time. Their marriages mother are also not allowed to marry.
are performed

2.

'^'^^^'

by a Kazi with an imitation of the Nikah rite. The bridegroom's party sit under the marriage-shed, and the

bride with the

women

of her party inside the house.

Kazi
other
or
'

selects

known

as

the Nikahi the

two men, one from the bride's party, Bap or Marriage Father,' and the
'

The who is

from

bridegroom's,
accepts
the

who

is

called

the

Gowah
and ask

Witness.'

These two men go

to

the bride

stated, for

bridegroom, whose name is She answers in the affirmative, and mentions the amount of the dowry which she is to The bridegroom, who has hitherto had a veil receive. {imck/ma) over his face, now takes it off, and the men go He to him and ask him whether he accepts the bride. replies that he does, and agrees to pay the dowry demanded The Kazi reads some texts and the guests are by her. Many of the preliminaries given a meal of rice and sugar. to a Hindu marriage are performed by the more backward members of the caste, and until recently they erected a
her whether she
her husband. sacred
post
in

the

marriage -shed, but

hang the green branch of a mango tree to the roof minimum amount of the vie/iar or dowry is said

now they merely The


to

be

Rs. 125, but it is paid to the girl's parents as a brideprice and not to herself, as among the Muhammadans.

A widow is expected, but not obliged, to Divorce deceased husband's younger brother.
by means of a written deed known as
'

marry her
is

permitted

Farkhati.'

72

BAHNA
The Bahnas venerate Muhammad, and
also worship the

tombs of

Muhammadan

saints or Pirs.

green sheet or

tomb and a lamp is kept burning cloth is by it, while offerings of incense and flowers are made.
spread over the

When

the

new

cotton

crop

has

some new cotton by

their

bow

been gathered they lay and mallet and make an

offering of viallda or cakes of flour

believe that two angels, one

They and sugar to it. good and one bad, are perched

continually on

the

shoulders of every

man

to record his

an eclipse occurs they say that the sun and moon have gone behind a pinnacle For exorcising evil spirits they or tower of the heavens. write texts of the Koran on paper and burn them before The caste bury the dead with the feet pointthe sufferer. ing to the south. On the way to the grave each one of the mourners places his shoulder under the bier for a

good and

evil

deeds.

And when

of the impurity communicated by it. burnt daily in the name of a deceased person for forty days after his death, with the object probably of preventing his ghost from returning to haunt the house.
time,

partaking
is

Incense

Muhammadan
after

the

birth of a child

Similarly, beggars are fed on the tenth day. a woman is unclean for forty

days, and cannot cook for her husband during that period.

child's

hair

is

cut

for

the

first

time on

the

tenth

or

twelfth

day

after birth, this being

known

as Jhalar.

Some

parents leave a lock of hair to grow on the head in the

name
will

of the famous saint Sheikh Farid, thinking that they


life

thus ensure a long

for the child.

It

is

probably

in

reality a

way

of preserving the
^

The

hereditary calling

of the
is

scutching of cotton, which


vibration of a bow-string.

Hindu choti or scalp-lock. Bahna is the cleaning or done by subjecting it to the


seed has been previously
still

The

separated by a hand-gin, but the ginned cotton

contains
this is

much

dirt, leaf-fibre

and other rubbish, and

to

remove

the Bahna's task.

The bow

is

somewhat

in the

shape of a

harp, the wide end consisting of a broad piece of

wood over

which the string passes, being secured to a straight wooden At the narrow end the bar and string bar at the back. The string is made of the arc fixed to an iron ring.
'

Cr<Joke's lyibes

and

Castes, art.

Bahna.

II

occurATION
animal, and
this

73

sinew of some
objectionable
to

renders

the
for
is

implement
the liahnas

Hindus, and

may

account

being

Muhammadans.

The

club or mallet

wooden

The bow is suspended implement shaped like a dumb-bell. from the roof so as to hang just over the pile of loose cotton and the worker twangs the string with the mallet and then draws the mallet across the string, each three or four times. The
string strikes a small
is

portion of the cotton, the fibre


off in

of which

scattered

by the impact and thrown

uniform condition of soft fluff, all dirt being at the same time removed. This is the operation technically known as
teasing. Buchanan remarked that women frequently did the work themselves at home, using a smaller kind of bow called dlmnkara. The clean cotton is made up into balls, some of which are passed on to the spinner, while others are used for the filling of quilts and the padded coats worn in the cold weather. The ingenious though rather clumsy method of the Bahna has been superseded by the ginning-factory, and little or no cotton destined for the spindle is now cleaned by him.

The

caste have been

forced to take to cultivation or field

labour, while

many have become cartmen and


Nearly every house

others
still

are
its

brokers, peons or constables.


pinjajt or

has

bow, but only a desultory use is made of this during the winter months. As it is principally used by a Muhammadan caste it seems a possible hypothesis that the cotton-bow

was introduced into India by invaders of that

religion.

The

name of the bow, pinj'an, is, however, a Sanskrit derivative, It has already been and this is against the above theory.
seen that the fact of animal sinew being used for the string

would

The Bahnas Hindus. of their account are subjected to considerable ridicule on ceremonies, curious mixture of Hindu and Muhammadan amounting in some respects practically to a caricature of and further, they share with the the rites of Islam

make

it

objectionable

to

weaver
related

class

the contempt

shown

to

those

who

follow a

calling considered

more suitable for women than men. It is that when the Mughal general Asaf Khan first made

an expedition into the north of the Central Provinces he found the famous Gond- Rajput queen Durgavati of the Garha-Mandla dynasty governing with success a large and

74

BAHNA
in

part

prosperous state
ruled by a

this

locality.
fall

woman

should

He thought a countryan easy prey to the Muhamretorted

madan

arms, and to show his contempt for her power he

sent her a golden spindle.

The queen

of a gold cotton-cleaner's bow, and this so enraged the


that he proceeded to attack the
indicates that cotton-carding
profession,
is

by a present Mughal

Gond kingdom.
considered a

The

story

Muhammadan

and also that it is held in contempt. Various sayings show that the Bahna is not considered a proper Muhammadan, as
Turuk
to

Turuk

Aiir BaJina Tm'iik,

or

'

A Muhammadan
is

(Turk)

is
'

Muhammadan and

the

Bahna

also a

Muhammadan

and again

Achera^ Kachera, Pinjdra, AIuham7nad se dfir, Din se niyura^


or
far
'

The Kachera and


from the
faith
' ;

Pinjara are lost to

Muhammad

and

and again
ad/io

Adho Hindu

Musabndn

Tink/ton kahcn DJiiinak Pat/iiln,

or
is

'

Half a Hindu and half a Muhammadan, that is he who Dhunak Pathan.' They have a grotesque imitation of

the

Muhammadan
;

rite

of

halill,

or causing an animal's blood

to flow on to the

invocation
kill

ground with the repetition of the kalma or thus it is said that when a Bahna is about to
it

a fowl he addresses

somewhat

as follows

Kdhe karkarat hai ?


KdJie barbardt hai ?

Kdhe jai jai

log07t

ka duna khdt hdi?

Tor kidniat inor

nidviat,

Bismilldh hai iuch,


" Why do you cackle ? Why do you crow ? Why do you eat other people's grain ? Your death is my feast I touch you in the name of God." And saying this he puts a knife to the fowl's throat. The vernacular verse is a good

or

The word Achera


is

is

merely a jingle put

in to

make

the

rhyme complete.

Kachera

maker of

glass bangles.

II

/'ROVFRHS

ABOUT

/1A//NAS

75

imitation of the cackling of a fowl.


off the top of

And

again, they slice

they were killing an animal and repeat the formula, " White dome, full of moisture, I know in the name of God not if there is a male or female within kill you." I A person whose memory is not good enough

an egg as

if

to retain

these texts will take a knife and proceed to one

who knows them.

Such a man
it

will repeat the texts


so,

over

and the Bahna conthe knife, blowing on retains its virtue and sanctified siders that the knife has been necessary, but have a think this Others do not for a week. is always consecrated special knife, which having once been in the heirloom kept for killing animals, and descends as an
as

he does

family, the use of this sacred knife being considered to

make
are,

the repetition of the kalma unnecessary.


caste in Raipur
civilised
tracts,

These customs

however, practised only by the ignorant members of the

and Bilaspur, and are unknown in the more where the Bahnas are rapidly conforming Such primitive Bahnas to ordinary Muhammadan usage. perform their marriages by walking round the sacred post, keep the Hindu festivals, and feed Brahmans on the tenth day after a death. They have a priest whom they call their In some places when a Kazi, but elect him themselves. Bahn-a goes to the well to draw water he first washes the parapet of the well to make it ceremonially clean, and then draws his water. This custom can only be compared with that of the Raj-Gonds who wash the firewood with which
they are about to cook their food, in order to make it more Respectable Muhammadans naturally look down on pure. the Bahnas, and they retaliate by refusing to take food or

By watqr from any Muhammadan who is not a Bahna. such strictness the more ignorant think that they will enhance their ceremonial purity and hence their social consideration
;

but the intelligent

members

of the caste

know

better

and

are glad to improve themselves

by learning from educated

among the Muhammadans have similar ideas, and it is reported that a Rangrez boy who took food in the house of one of the highest Muhammadan officers of Government in the Province was
Muhammadans. The
other menial artisan castes

temporarily

put out of caste.

Another saying about the

Bahnas

is

76

BAHNA
SheikJioji ki Sheikht, Pathdnofi kl farr,
Tiirkott ki Tierkshdhi,

part

ii

Bahnoii ki bharrr

or

'

Proud

as

a Sheikh, obstinate as a Pathan, royal as a


like

This refers to the noise of the cotton-cleaning bow, the twang of which as it is struck by the club is like a quail flying and at the same time to Another story is that a Bahna was the Bahna's loquacity. once going through the forest with his cotton-cleaning bow and club or mallet, when a jackal met him on the path. The jackal was afraid that the Bahna would knock him on Turk, buzzing
a Bahna.'
;

the head, so he said,

thine

arrow
? "
'

Delhi

replied,

With thy bow on thy shoulder and thy hand, whither goest thou, O King of The Bahna was exceedingly pleased at this and King of the forest, eater of wild plums, only the
"

in

But when the jackal had recognise the great.' got to a safe distance he turned round and shouted, " With your cotton-bow on your shoulder and your club in your It is said also that hand, there you go, you sorry Bahna."
great can

although the Bahnas as good Muhammadans wear beards, they do not cultivate them very successfully, and many of them only have a growth of hair below the chin and none

on the under-lip, in the fashion known as a goat's beard. This kind of beard is thus proverbially described as Bahna It may be repeated in kaisi ddrhi' or *A Bahna's beard.' attaching to the Bahnas ridicule conclusion that much of the what is considered follow arises simply from the fact that they in their because a feminine occupation, and the remainder illseem It may ignorance they parody the rites of Islam. lampooned, natured to record the sayings in which they are but the l^ahnas cannot read English, and these have an
'

interest as

specimens of popular

wit.

BAIGA
LIST OK PARA(n-iAPHS
1.

The

tribe iDtd ils offslioois.

6.
7.

Religion.

2.

3.

Tribal lege7ids. Tribal subdivisions.


Afarriage.

8. 9.

Appearance and mode of life. Dress and food.


Occupation.

4.
5.

Birth and funeral

rites.

10.

Language.
The

A primitive Dravidian tribe whose home is Baiga/ on the eastern Satpura hills in the Mandla, Balaghfit and The number of the Baigas proper was Bilaspur Districts. But the Binjhals or Binjhwars, a only 30,000 in 191 i. fairly numerous caste in the Chhattlsgarh Division, and especially in the Sambalpur District, appear to have been originally Baigas, though they have dropped the original caste name, become Hinduised, and now disclaim connection A reason for this may be found in with the parent tribe. the fact that Sambalpur contains several Binjhwar zamlndars, or large landowners, whose families would naturally desire a more respectable pedigree than one giving them the wild And the evoluBaigas of the Satpuras for their forefathers. tion 9f the Binjhwar caste is a similar phenomenon to the constitution of the Raj-Gonds, the Raj-Korkus, and other aristocratic subdivisions among the forest tribes, who have
been admitted to a respectable position in the Hindu social community. The Binjhwars, however, have been so successful as to cut themselves off almost completely from connection with the original tribe, owing to their adoption of But in Balaghat and Mandla the Binjhwar another name.
1

i.

jj^

l^^

shoots.

This

article is

based largely on a
J-

Ali Haqqani, B.A., Tahsildar, Dindori.


extracts have been made from Colonel Ward's Mandla Settlement Report (1869), and from Colonel Bloomfield's Azotes on ike Baigas.

monograph by the Rev.


by

missionary, Baihar, and also

Lampard, on papers
forest

Some

Muhammad Hanlf

Siddlqi,

ranger, Bilaspur,

and Mr.

Muhammad
77

78

BAIGA
is still

PART

subtribe

recognised as

tiie

most

civilised subdivision

of the Baigas.

The Bhainas,

a small tribe in Bilaspur, are

probably another offshoot, Kath-Bhaina being the name of a subtribe of Baigas in that District, and Rai-Bhaina in Balaghat, though the Bhainas too no longer admit identity A feature common to all three branches with the Baigas.
that they have forgotten their original tongue, and now speak a more or less corrupt form of the Indo- Aryan Finally, the term Bhumia vernaculars current around them. or Lord of the soil is used sometimes as the name of a separate tribe and sometimes as a synonym for Baiga.
is
' '

The fact is that name of an office,


deities,

in

the Central

Provinces

Bhumia

is

the

that of the priest of the village and local

tract

In the which is held by one of the forest tribes. where the Baigas live, they, as the most ancient but residents, are usually the priests of the indigenous gods in Jubbulpore the same office is held by another tribe, the
;

Bharias.

The name
of the tribe,

of the

office often

attaches itself to

members

who

consider
it

it

as

somewhat more
Jubbulpore are

respectable than their own, and


to say that the people

is

therefore generally true


in

known

as

Bhumias

really Bharias, but in Mandla and Bilaspur they are Baigas. In Mandla there is also found a group called BhariaThese are employed as village priests by Hindus, Baigas.

and worship

Hindu deities and not the Gond gods. They may perhaps be members of the Bharia tribe of
certain

Jubbulpore, originally derived from the Bhars, who have obtained the designation of Baiga, owing to their employment as village priests. But they now consider themselves
a part of the Baiga tribe and say they

came

to

Mandla from
boundary

Rewah.
dispute
is

In

Mandla the

decision of a Baiga on a

almost always considered as final, and this authority of a kind that commonly emanates from recognised is There seems reason to suppose that priority of residence."
the Baigas are really a branch of the primitive Bhuiya tribe of Chota Nagpur, and that they have taken or been given the name of Baiga, the designation of a village priest, on

migration into the Central Provinces.


'

There

is

reason to

In Bengal

tlie

Tihumia or BhumTj

are an iniportanl tribe.

^ Colonel Ward's Mandla Settlement Report (1868-69), P- 'SS-

II

fh'I/lA/. I.I'A.I'INDS

79
in

believe tluit the Haiijas were once


tist^arh

dominant
it

the Clihat-

phu'n

and

the

hills

surrounding^

wiiich

adjoin

Chota
tions

Nai;[)ur, the

home

of the Bhuiyas.
in

The
the

consideraarticle

in favour of this view are given Bhuiya, to which reference may be made.

on
2.

The

Baigas, however, are not without


as

some

conceit of
In

rribai
^'

themselves,
Baigin, the

the

following

legend

will

show.

the

*^^'^"

God created Nanga Baiga and Nangi human race, and asked them by what calling they would choose to live. They at once said that they would make their living by felling trees in the jungle,
beginning, they say,
first

of the

and permission being accorded, have done so ever since. They had two sons, one of whom remained a Baiga, while the other became a Gond and a tiller of the soil. The sons married their own two sisters who were afterwards born, and
the elder couple are the ancestors of the Baigas, from the younger are descended the Gonds and all the remainder of the human race. In another version of the story the first Baiga cut down two thousand old sal^ trees in one day, and God told him to sprinkle a few grains of kutki on the ashes, and then to retire and sleep for some months, when on his return he would be able to reap a
rich harvest for his children.

while

In this

manner the habit of

shifting cultivation
to

Binjhwar
hill

accorded divine sanction. According tradition Nanga Baiga and Nangi Baigin
is is

dwelt on the kajli ban paJidr, which being interpreted


the
that

of elephants, and
Bilaspur.
It

may
is

well refer to the ranges of


in

Mandla and
the

stated

the Ain-i-Akbari~

country

of

Garha- Mandla

abounded

in

wild

elephants, and that

the people paid their tribute in these

In Mandla the Baigas sometimes hang from their houses a bamboo mat fastened to a long pole to represent a flag which they say once flew from the palace of a Baiga king. It seems likely that the original home of the tribe may have been the Chhattlsgarh plain and the hill-ranges surrounding it. A number of estates in these hills are held by landowners of tribes which are offshoots of the Baigas, as the Bhainas and Binjhwars. The point is

and gold mohurs.


out

Jarrett's

1 Skorea rohnsta. Ain-i-Akbari, vol.

ii.

p.

ig6.

So

BAIGA

Most of the in the article on Bhuiya. Baigas speak a corrupt form of the Chhattisgarhi dialect. When they first came under the detailed observation of
further discussed

English officers in the middle of the nineteenth century, the were even more solitary and retired than at present. Their villages, it is said, were only to be found in places
tribe
far

removed from

all

cleared

and cultivated country.

No

roads or well-defined paths connected them with ordinary lines of traffic and more thickly inhabited tracts, but perched

away

in

snug corners
not

in the hills,

and hidden by convenient

projecting spurs and dense forests from the country round,

they could

be seen except when nearly approached,

and were seldom visited unless by occasional enterprising Indeed, without a Banias and vendors of country liquor. Baiga for a guide many of the villages could hardly be discovered, for nothing but occasional notches on the trees distineuished the tracks to them from those of the sambhar and other wild animals.

The
nised
:

following seven subdivisions or subtribes are recog-

Binjhwar,

Bharotia,

Narotia

or

Nahar, Raibhaina,

Kathbhaina, Kondwan

or Kundi,

and Gondwaina.

Of

these

the Binjhwar, Bharotia and Narotia are the best -known. The name of the Binjhwars is probably derived from the

Vindhyan

range, which in

turn

vindliya, a hunter.
strictly observed,

The
and
in

rule

comes from the Sanskrit of exogamy is by no means


it

Kawardha

is

said

that

these

three subcastes intermarry though they do not eat together, while in Balaghat the Bharotias and Narotias both eat together

and

intermarry.

In

both

places

the

Binjhwars occupy

the highest position, and the other two subtribes will take The Binjhwars consider themselves as food from them.

Hindus and abjure the consumption of buffalo's and cow's and rats, while the other Baigas will eat almost anyThe Bharotias partially shave their heads, and in thing. Mandla are apparently known as Mundia or Mudia, or " shaven." The Gondwainas eat both cow's flesh and As monkeys, and are regarded as the lowest subcaste. shown by their name they are probably the offspring of unions between Baigas and Gonds. Similarly the Kondwans
flesh

apparently derive their

name from

the tract south of the

II

MARRIACK
is

8i

Mahfinadi which
formerly

tKuncd after

tlic

Khoiid

tribe,

and was

owned by them.
sLibtribe
is

Each
septs, the

divided into a

number of exogamous

names

of which are identical in

many

cases with

those of the Gonds, as


others.

Markam, Maravi, Netam, Tekam and

Gond names are found most frequently among the Gondwainas and Narotias, and these have adopted from the Gonds the prohibition of marriage between worshippers of the same number of gods. Thus the four septs above mentioned worship seven gods and may not intermarry. But they may marry among other septs such as the Dhurua, Pusam, Bania and Mawar who worship six gods. The Baigas do not appear to have assimilated the further division into worshippers of five, four, three and two gods which exists among the Gonds in some localities, and the system is confined to the lower subtribes. The meanings of the sept names have been forgotten and no instances of totemism are known. And the Binjhwars and Bharotias, who are more or less Hinduised, have now adopted territorial names for their septs, as Lapheya from Lapha zamlndari, Ghugharia from Ghughri village in Mandia, and so on. The adoption of Gond names and septs appears to indicate that Gonds
were in former times freely admitted into the Baiga tribe and this continues to be the case at present among the lower subtribes, so far that a Gond girl marrying a Baiga becomes a regular member of the community. But the Binjhwars and Bharotias, who have a somewhat higher status than the others, refuse to admit Gonds, and are gradually adopting
;

the strict rule" of

endogamy

within the subtribe.


4.

Baiga must not take a wife from his own sept or from another one worshipping the same number of gods. But he may marry within his mother's sept, and in some localities the union of first cousins is permitted. Marriage is adult and the proposal comes from the parents of the bride, but in some places the girl is allowed to select a husband for herself A price varying from five to twenty rupees is usually paid to
the bride's parents, or in lieu of this the prospective husband
serves his father-in-law for a period of about

Mar-

"^^^'

two

years, the

marriage being celebrated after the first year if his conduct is satisfactory. Orphan boys who have no parents to arrange VOL. II G

82

BAIGA

PART

their marriages for

them often take service for a wife. Three The first, which ceremonies should precede the marriage. may take place at any time after the birth of both children,
consists merely in the

arrangement

for their betrothal.

The

second

is

only a ratification of the

first,

feasts

being provided

by the boy's parents on both occasions.

While on the approach of the children to marriageable age the final betrothal The boy's father gives a large feast at or barokhi is held. the house of the girl and the date of the wedding is fixed. To ascertain whether the union will be auspicious, two
grains of rice are dropped into a pot of water, after various

preliminary solemnities to
sion.
is

mark the importance

of the occait

If the points of the grains

meet almost immediately

considered that the marriage will be highly auspicious.

If

they do not meet, a second pair of grains are dropped in, and should these meet it is believed that the couple will quarrel after an interval of married life and that the wife
will return to her father's house.
first

While

if

neither of the
is

two

essays are successful and a third pair


is

required, the

regrettable conclusion

arrived at that the wife will run

away with another man


band.

after a very short stay with her husis

But

it

is

not stated that the betrothal

on that

account annulled. bridegroom's house


side the village.

The wedding
^

procession starts from the

and

is

received

by the

bride's father out-

It is

considered essential that he should go

out to meet the bride's party riding on an elephant.


as a real elephant
is

But

not within the means of a Baiga, two


lashed

wooden bedsteads

are

together

and

covered with

blankets with a black cloth trunk in front, and this arrange-

ment passes muster


until a

for

an elephant.

The elephant makes


parties

pretence to charge and trample

down

the marriage procession,

rupee

is

paid,

when the two

other and proceed to the marriage-shed.

embrace each Here the bride and

bridegroom throw fried rice at each other until they are tired, and then walk three or seven times round the marriage-post
with their clothes tied
together.
It
is

stated

by Colonel

Ward

that the couple always retired to the forest to spend


custom formerly existed abandoned,
it

' Colonel Ward gives the bride's But inhouse as among the Gonds.

has

been

(juiry

in

Mandla shows

that

if

tliis

11

III RTII

AND FUNERAL RIIRS

83

the

wedding

night, but this

custom has now been abandoned.


fifty
fall

The expenditure on
l)arents.

a marriage varies between ten and

rupees, of which only about five rupees

on the

bride's

The remarriage

of widows

is

permitted, and the

widow

is

expected, though not obliged, to


if

wed her

late hus-

band's younger brother, while

she takes another husband he must pay her brother-in-law the sum of five rupees.

The ceremony consists merely of the presentation of bangles and new clothes by the suitor, in token of her acceptance of which the widow pours some tepid water stained with turmeric over his head. Divorce may be effected by the husband and wife breaking a straw in the presence of the caste panchdyat
or committee. If the woman remains in the same village and does not marry again, the husband is responsible for her maintenance and that of her children, while a divorced woman

may
is

not remarry without the sanction of the pancJiayat so long as her husband is alive and remains single. Polygamy
permitted.

A woman

is

unclean for a month after childbirth, though

5.

Birth

the Binjhwars restrict the period to eight days.

At

the

and funeral
rites.

ceremony of purification a feast is given and the child is named, often after the month or day of its birth, as Chaitu, Phagu, Saoni, and so on, from the months of Chait, Phagun and Shrawan. Children who appear to be physically defective are given names accordingly, such as Langra (lame), or Bahira (deaf). The dead are usually
buried, the bodies of old persons being burnt as a special

honour and to save them from the risk of being devoured by wild animals. Bodies are laid naked in the grave with the head pointing to the south. In the grave of a man of importance two or three rupees and some tobacco are placed. In some places a rupee is thrust into the mouth of the dying man, and if his body is burnt, the coin is recovered from the pyre by his daughter or sister, who wears it as an amulet. Over the grave a platform is made on which a stone is erected. This is called the Bhiri of the deceased and is worshipped by his relatives in time of trouble. If one of the family has to be buried elsewhere, the relatives go to the BhIri of the great dead and consign his spirit to be kept in their company. At a funeral the mourners take one black

84

BAIGA
to a stream
for

PART
kill

and one white fowl

and

and eat them

there,

Mourning is observed for a period of from two to nine days, and during this time labour and even household work are stopped, food When a man being supplied by the friends of the family. is killed by a tiger the Baiga priest goes to the spot and there makes a small cone out of the blood-stained earth. This must represent a man, either the dead man or one of His companions having retired a few his living relatives. priest goes on his hands and knees and performs paces, the
setting aside a portion

the dead man.

a series of antics which are supposed to represent the tiger


in

the act of destroying the man, at the same time seizing

the

lump of blood-stained

earth in his teeth.

One

of the

party then runs up and taps him on the back with a small
stick.

wise rendered harmless

mud

This perhaps means that the tiger is killed or otherand the Baiga immediately lets the It is then cone fall into the hands of one of the party.
;

The placed in an ant-hill and a pig is sacrificed over it. next day a small chicken is taken to the place, and after a mark supposed to be the dead man's name is made on its head with red ochre, it is thrown back into the forest, the The ceremony priest exclaiming, Take this and go home.' is supposed to lay the dead man's spirit and at the same time to prevent the tiger from doing any further damage. The Baigas believe that the ghost of the victim, if not charmed to rest, resides on the head of the tiger and incites him to further deeds of blood, rendering him also secure from
'

the tiger's ddr or bite them, driving he cannot by a nail into a jaws, so that track from Kanha Kisli in the Banjar The forest to tree. formerly haunt of mana forest reserve of Mandla was eating tigers, to whom a number of the wood-cutters and Baiga coolies, clearing the jungle paths, fell victims every year. In a large tree, at a dangerous point in the track, there could recently be seen a nail, driven into the trunk by It was a Baiga priest, at some height from the ground. said that this nail shut the mouth of a famous man-eating tiger of the locality and prevented him from killing any
'

harm by his preternatural watchfulness.^ They also think that they can shut up

VorayiWs Hig/iiands of Central India,

p.

377.

II

REI.ir.JON
victims.

85
(;f

more

As

evidence of the truth

the story there

were shown on the trunk the marks of the timer's chiws, where he had been jumpinfT up the tree in the effort to pull the nail out of the trunk and get his man-eating powers
restored.

Although the IMnjhwar subcaste now profess Hinduism,


Their principal deity is Bura Deo/ who is supposed to reside in a sdj he is worshipped in the month tree {Teriiiinalia touientosci)
the religion of the Baigas
is

6. Rcii^'ion

purely animistic.

of Jeth (May),
of the
is

when

goats, fowls, cocoanuts,

and the liquor

new mahua crop

are offered to him.

Thakur Deo
is

the god of the village land and boundaries, and

propi-

tiated with a white goat.

The Baigas who plough

the fields

have a ceremony called Bidri, which is performed before the breaking of the rains. A handful of each kind of grain sown is given by each cultivator to the priest, who mixes the grains together and sows a little beneath the tree where Thakur Deo lives. After this he returns a little to each cultivator, and he sows it in the centre of the land on which crops are to be grown, while the priest keeps the remainder. This ceremony is believed to secure the success of the harvest. Dulha Deo is the god who averts disease and accident, and the offering made to him should consist of a fowl or goat Bhimsen is the deity of rainfall, and of reddish colour. Dharti Mata or Mother Earth is considered to be the wife of Thakur Deo, and must also be propitiated for the success of the crops. The grain itself is worshipped at the threshCertain ing floor by sprinkling water and liquor on to it. Hindu deities are also worshipped by the Baigas, but not in Thus it would be sacrilege on the part orthodox fashion. of a Hindu to offer animal sacrifices to Narayan Deo, the sun-god, but the Baigas devote to him a special oblation of The animal to be sacrithe most unclean animal, the pig. ficed is allowed to wander loose for two or three years, and It is laid across the is then killed in a most cruel manner. threshold of a doorway on its back, and across its stomach Half a dozen men sit is placed a stout plank of sdj-wooA. or stand on the ends of this, and the fore and hind feet of the pig are pulled backwards and forwards alternately over
'

The Great God.

The Gonds

also worship

Bura Deo, resident

in a sdj tree.'

86

BAIGA
it

PART
all

the plank until

is

crushed to death, while

the

men

sing

or shout a sacrificial
off

hymn.

The head and

feet

are cut

and the body is eaten. The be haunted by spirits, and in certain localities pats or shrines are erected in their honour, and occasional offerings are made to them. The spirits of married persons are supposed to live in streams, while trees afford a shelter to the souls of the unmarried, who become bJiuts or malignant spirits after death. Nag Deo or the cobra is supposed to live in an ant-hill, and offerings are made to him there. Demoniacal possession is an article of faith, and a popular remedy is to burn human hair mixed with chillies and pig's dung near the person possessed, as the horrible

and offered

to the deity,

forests are believed to

smell thus produced will drive


weird, Mr.

away

the

spirit.

Many and

Low
;

writes,

are the simples which the Baiga's

travelling scrip contains.

Among

these a dried bat has the


his nets

chief place

this the

Baiga says he uses to charm

with, that the prey

may

catch in them as the bat's claws

it touches. As an instance of the Baiga's be mentioned that on one occasion when a train of the new Satpura railway ^ had pulled up at a wayside forest station, a Baiga was found offering a sacrifice

catch in w^hatever
it

pantheism

may

Like other superstitious people they are omens. A single crow bathing in a stream is a sign of death. A cock which crows in the night should be instantly killed and thrown into the darkness, a custom which some would be glad to see introduced into much more The woodpecker and owl are birds of bad civilised centres. omen. The Baigas do not appear to have anj- idea of a fresh birth, and one of their marriage songs says, " O girl, take your pleasure in going round the marriage-post once and for all, for there is no second birth." The Baigas are generally the priests of the Gonds, probably because being earlier residents of the country they are considered to have a more intimate acquaintance with the local deities. They have a wide knowledge of the medicinal properties of jungle roots and herbs, and are often successful in effecting cures when the regular native doctors have failed. Their village priests have consequently a considerable reputation as skilled
to the

engine.

great believers

in

'

Opened

in

1905.

II

APPEARANCE AND MODE


of a

Oh' I.Il'E

87

sorcerers

and persons conversant with the unseen world.

case

arrival called in a Baiga priest gods he should worship, and what and asked what forest other steps he should take to keep well and escape calamity. Colonel Ward states that in his time Baigas were commonly called in to give aid when a town or village was attacked by cholera, and further that he had seen the greatest benefit to For the people had so much conresult from their visit. fidence in their powers and ceremonies that they lost half their fright at once, and were consequently not so much preOn such an occasion disposed to an attack of the disease. the Baiga priest goes round the village and pulls out a little straw from each house-roof, afterwards burning the whole before the shrine of Khermata, the goddess of the village, to whom he also offers a chicken for each homestead. If this remedy fails goats are substituted for chickens, and lastly, as a forlorn hope, pigs are tried, and, as a rule, do not fail, because by this time the disease may be expected to have

is known who immediately

Brahman
after his

transferred to a jungle station,

worked
a

itself out.

It is

suggested that the chicken represents

victim from each house, while the straw stands for the house itself, and the offering has the common idea of a
substituted victim.
little taller than most other and though they have a tendency to the flat nose of the Gonds, their foreheads and the general shape of their

human

In stature the Baigas are a

7.

Appear-

tribes,

^^^^^^^^
life.

heads are of a better mould.

Colonel

Ward

states that the

members
are a

of the tribe inhabiting the Maikal range in


finer

Mandla

than those living nearer the open country.^ Their figures are very nearly perfect, says Colonel Bloomfield,^ and their wiry limbs, unburdened by superfluous flesh, will carry them over very great distances and over

much

race

places inaccessible to most

human
forests.

beings, while their

com-

pact bodies need no other nutriment than the scanty fare


afforded

by their native hardy and active in the


courageous.

They

are

born hunters,

chase,

and exceedingly bold and

In character they are naturally simple, honest and truthful, and when their fear of a stranger has been
1

Mandla Settlement
2

Jieport {l?>6S-6()),
p. 4.

Y>-

153-

Notes on the Baigas,

88

BAIGA

PART

dissipated are most companionable folk.

small hut, 6 or

7 feet high at the ridge, made of split bamboos and mud, with a neat veranda in front thatched with leaves and grass,

forms the Baiga's residence, and if it is burnt down, or visitation of epidemic disease, he can build A rough earthen vessel to another in the space of a day,

abandoned on a

hold water, leaves for plates, gourds for drinking-vessels, a


piece of matting to sleep on, and a small axe, a sickle and a
spear, exhaust the inventory of the Baiga's furniture,

and the

money

value of the whole would not exceed a rupee.^


live

The

Baigas never
their huts

in

a village with other castes, but have


village in the jungle.
also, the

some distance away from the

Baiga prefers his house to stand alone and at some little distance from those of his While nominally belonging to the village fellow-tribesmen. near which they dwell, so separate and distinct are they from the rest of people that in the famine of 1897 cases were found of starving Baiga hamlets only a few hundred yards away from the village proper in which ample relief was being given. On being questioned as to why they had not caused the Baigas to be helped, the other villagers said, We did not remember them and when the Baigas were asked why they did not apply for relief, they said, We did not think it was meant for Baigas.' Their dress is of the most simple description, a small strip of rag between the legs and another wisp for a headcovering sufficing for the men, though the women are decently covered from their shoulders to half-way between the thighs and knees. A Baiga may be known by his scanty clothing and tangled hair, and his wife by the way in which her single garment is arranged so as to provide a safe sitting- place in it for her child. Baiga women have been seen at work in the field transplanting rice with babies comfortably seated in their cloth, one sometimes supported on either hip with their arms and legs out, while the mother was stooping low, hour after hour, handling the rice plants. A girl is tattooed on the forehead at the age of five, and over her whole body before she is married, both for the sake of ornament and because the practice is considered beneficial to the health.
Unlike the other tribes
'
' ;

'

Mr. T.ampard's monograph.

11

/)h'j':ss

AND

i-oon

89

The

Baif]^as

arc usually without blankets ox

kept all night, stray smouldering sparks from which burning or may alight on their tough skins without being felt. Mr. Lampard relates that on one occasion a number of Baiga men were supplied by the Mission under his charge with large new cloths to cover their bodies with and make them presentable on appearance in church. On the second Sunday, however, they came with their cloths burnt full of small holes and they explained that the damage had been done at night while they were sleeping round the fire. A Baiga, Mr. Lampard continues, is speedily discerned in a forest village bazar, and is the most interesting object in it. His almost nude figure, wild, tangled hair innocent of such inventions as brush or comb, lithe wiry limbs and jungly
fire
;

and in the cold season they sleep round a

warm wood

clothint^,

and
or

uncivilised

appearance, mark him out at once.

He

generally brings a few mats or baskets which he has made,


fruits,

roots,

honey, horns of animals, or other jungle


sale,

products which he has collected, for

and with the sum


pice into cowrie

obtained (a few pice or annas at the most) he proceeds to

make
shells,

his

weekly purchases, changing

his

of which he receives eighty for each one.


salt, chillies

He
as

buys
of

tobacco,

and other sundries, besides


rice,

much

kodon, kutki, or perhaps


a
trifle

as he can afford, always leaving

to be

expended

at the liquor

shop before departing

for

home.

The

various purchases are tied up in the corners of

Unlike pieces of cloth which usually have four corners, the l^aiga's headgear appears to be nothing but corners, and when the shopping is done the strip of rag may have a dozen minute bundles tied up in it. In Baihar of Balaghat buying and selling are conducted on perhaps the most minute scale known, and if a Baiga has one or two pice ^ to lay out he will spend no inconsiderable Grain is sold in small measures holding about time over it. four ounces called baraiyas, but each of these has a layer of mud at the bottom of varying degrees of thickness, so as to Before a purchase can be made it must reduce its capacity. settled by baraiya the grain is to be measured, and be whose

the bit of rag twisted round his head.

known

to civilisation,

Farthings.

90

BAIGA
some

PART

the seller and


person's baraiya
consists

purchaser each refuse the other's as being


neutral
selected as a compromise.
fruits

unfair to himself, until at length after discussion


is

largely

of forest

Their food and roots with a scanty

allowance of rice or the light millets, and they can go without nourishment for periods which appear extraordinary

They eat the flesh of almost all animals, man. They though the more civilised abjure beef and monkeys. The will take food from a Gond but not from a Brahman. Baiga dearly loves the common country liquor made from the mahua flower, and this is consumed as largely as funds will permit of at weddings, funerals and other social gatherings, and also if obtainable at other times. They have a tribal panchayat or committee which imposes penalties for social offences, one punishment being the abstention from meat for A girl going wrong with a man of the caste a fixed period. is punished by a fine, but cases of unchastity among unmarried xA.mong their pastimes dancing is one Baiga girls are rare. of the chief, and in their favourite dance, known as karma., the men and women form long lines opposite to each other One of the instruments, with the musicians between them. a drum called nidndar, gives out a deep bass note which can The two lines advance and retire, everybe heard for miles. body singing at the same time, and when the dancers get fully into the time and swing, the pace increases, the drums beat furiously, the voices of the singers rise higher and higher, and by the light of the bonfires which are kept burning the whole scene is wild in the extreme.
to civilised

The Baigas formerly practised only shifting cultivation, burning down patches of jungle and sowing seed on the ground fertilised by the ashes after the breaking of the rains. Now that this method has been prohibited in Government forest, attempts have been made to train them to regular An cultivation, but with indifferent success in Balaghat. difficulties be encountered may be obtained the to idea of from the fact that in some villages the Baiga cultivators, if left unwatched, would dig up the grain which they had
while themselves sown as seed in their fields and eat it them invariably the plough -cattle which were given to
;

developed diseases

in spite

of

all

precautions, as a result of

OCCUPATION
fcniiul

91
l')ai^a'.s

which they
cookinL;-pot.
arul
in

their

way sooner

or later to the

lUit

they arc f;rachially

ucloptiiiL; settled habits,

allotted to
tive

MancHa, where a considerable block of forest was them in which they might continnc their destrucof shifting sowings,
it

practice

is

reported

that

the

majority have now become regular


tion of their refusal to
it
till

cultivators.
is

One

explana-

the ground

that they consider

a sin to lacerate the breast of their

mother earth with a

They also say that God made the jungle to produce everything necessary for the sustenance of men and made the Raigas kings of the forest, giving them wisdom to To Gonds and others discover the things provided for them. who had not this knowledge, the inferior occupation of tilling the land was left. The men never become farmservants, but during the cultivating season they work for hire at uprooting they do no other the rice seedlings for transplantation
ploughshare.
;

agricultural labour for others.

Women

do the actual

trans-

plantation of rice and work as harvesters.

The men make

bamboo mats and baskets, which they sell in the village weekly markets. They also collect and sell honey and other forest products, and are most expert at all work that can be done with an axe, making excellent woodcutters. But they show no aptitude in acquiring the use of any other implement, and dislike steady continuous labour, preferring to do a few days' work and then rest in their homes for a like period Their skill and dexterity in the use before beginning again. Small deer, hares of the axe in hunting is extraordinary. and peacocks are often knocked over by throwing it at them, and panthers and other large animals are occasionally killed If one of two Baigas is carried off by a with a single blow. tiger, the survivor will almost always make a determined and often successful attempt to rescue him with nothing more They are expert trackers, formidable than an axe or a stick. and are also clever at setting traps and snares, while, like Korkus, they catch fish by damming streams in the hot weather and throwing into the pool thus formed some leaf Even in a famine year, Mr. or root which stupefies them. Low says, a Baiga can collect a large basketful of roots in a single day and if the bamboo seeds he is amply provided for. Nowadays Baiga cultivators may occasionally be met
;

92

BAIGA
who have taken
to regular cultivation

PART

II

with

and become quite

prosperous, owning a
10.

number of

cattle.

Lan-

guage.

their

As already stated, the Baigas have completely fongotten own language, and in the Satpura hills they speak a

broken form of Hindi, though they have a certain number


of words and expressions peculiar to the caste.

BAIRAGI
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
Minor
9sects.

Defitiition
tistics.

of name and

sta-

Thefour SanipradCiyas or main


orders.

10.
1

The seven A kharas. The Dwdras.


Initiation,

1.

appearance

and

3.

4.
5.

6.
7.

The The The The The

Rdmdnujis. RdmCinandis. Ninumandis. MddJiavachdryas.


Vallabhachdryas.
I

customs.

Recruitment of the order and


its character.

'3-

Social position

and

customs.

14.
5.

Bairdgi

motuistcries.

Married Bairagis.
general

Bairagfi,^

Sadhu.

The

term

for

members of
become

i-

Defini-

the Vishnuite religious orders,

who

formerly as a rule lived

ai'nrand
statistics.

by mendicancy.
a caste.
In

The
1

Bairagis have now, however,

38,000 persons in the Districts and States. The name Bairagi is supposed to come from the Sanskrit Vairagya and to signify one who is free from human passions. Bairaga is also the term for the crutched stick which such mendicants frequently carry about with them and lean upon, either sitting or standing, and which in case of need would serve them as a weapon. that the name Platts considers of the order comes from the Sanskrit abstract term, and the crutch therefore apparently obtained its name from being Properly, a religious mendiused by members of the order. But cant of any Vishnuite sect should be called a Bairagi. the term is not generally applied to the more distinctive sects as the Kablrpanthi, Swami-Narayan, Satnami and others, some of whfch are almost separated from Hinduism,
191
Provinces, being distributed over
all
'' '

they numbered

This

article contains material

from

chSrya's

Hindu

Castes

and

Sects

Sir E. Maclagan's

Punjab Census ReJ.

port (1891),

and Dr.

N. Bhatta-

(Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta). - Dictionary, s.v.

93

94

BAIRAGI

nor to the Sikh religious orders, nor the Chaitanya sect of Bengal. A proper Bairagi is one whose principal deity is
either

Vishnu or
is

either of his great incarnations,

Rama

and

Krishna.
It

generally held that there are four

Sampradayas or
first

main

sects of Bairagis.

These are
the followers of the
in

{a)

The Ramanujis,

prominent

Vishnuite reformer Ramanuj


are classed the

southern India, with

whom

Ramanandis
is,

or adherents of his great disciple

Ramanand
sect.
(Jj)

in

northern India.

Both these are also called

Sri Vaishnava, that

the principal or original Vaishnava


or

The Nimanandi, Nimat

Nimbaditya

sect, followers

of a saint called Nimanand.


{c)

The Vishnu- Swami


The Madhavacharya

or

Vallabhacharya

sect,

wor-

shippers of Krishna and Radha.


sect of southern India. be desirable to give a few particulars of each of these, mainly taken from Wilson's Hindu Sects and Dr. Bhattacharya's Hindu Castes and Sects. Ramanuj was the first great Vishnuite prophet, and lived India in the eleventh or twelfth century on an southern in the Kaveri river near Trichinopoly. island in He preached the worship of a supreme spirit, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and taught that men also had souls or spirits, He was a strong opponent and that matter was lifeless. of the cult of Siva, then predominant in southern India, and He, however, admitted only the higher of phallic worship. castes into his order, and cannot therefore be considered as the founder of the liberalising principle of Vishnuism. The superiors of the Ramanuja sect are called Acharya, and rank highest among the priests of the Vishnuite orders. The [d)
It

will

most striking feature

in

the practice of the Ramanujis

is

the

separate preparation and scrupulous privacy of their meals.

They must not eat in cotton garments, but must bathe, and then put on wool or silk. The teachers allow their select pupils to assist them, but in general all the Ramanujis cook
for themselves,

and should the meal during

this process, or

while they are eating, attract even the look of a stranger, the
operation
is

instantly stopped and the viands buried in the

11

rilJ':

RAMANUJIS
or
'

-Tni'.

RAMANANPIS

95

address each other with the sakitayour slave/ accompanied with the I'ranam or slight inclination of the head and the application of joined hands to the forehead. To the Acharyas or superiors the other members of the sect perform the Ashtanga or prostration of the body with eight parts touching the ground. The tilak or sect-mark of the Ramanujis consists of two perpendicular white lines from the roots of the hair to the top of the eyebrows, with a connecting white line at the base, and a third central line either of red or yellow. The Ramanujis do not recognise the worship of Radha, the consort of Krishna. The mendicant orders of the Satanis and Dasaris of southern India are branches of this

ground.
tion

The Rumruuijis
I

Dasoham,

am

sect.

Ramanand,
India,
cult,

the great prophet of Vishnuism in northern


real

4.

The

founder of the liberal doctrines of the lived at Benares at the end of the fourteenth century,

and the

^^^'"!''

nandis.

and

is

supposed to have been a follower of Ramanuj.


least,

He
all

introduced, however, a great extension of his predecessor's

gospel in making his sect, nominally at


castes.

open to

He

thus

initiated

the struggle

against the social

tyranny and exclusiveness of the caste system, which was carried to greater lengths by his disciples and successors, Kablr, Nanak, Dadu, Rai Das and others. These afterwards proclaimed the worship of one unseen god who could not be represented by idols, and the religious equality of all men, their tenets no doubt being considerably influenced by their observance of Islam, which had now become a principal religion of India. Ramanand himself did not go so far, and remained a good Hindu, inculcating the special worship of

Rama

and

his consort Sita.

The Ramanandis

consider the

most sacred book, and make pilgrimages to Ajodhia and Ramnath.^ Their sect-mark consists of two white lines down the forehead with a red one between, but they are continued on to the nose, ending in a loop, instead
as their

Ramayana

of terminating at the line of the eyebrows, like that of the Ramanujis. The Ramanandis say that the mark on the nose represents the Singasun or lion's throne, while the two

white lines up the forehead are


*

Rama

and Lakhshman, and


p.

Sir E. Maclagan's

Punjab

Cciistts

Report (1S91),

122.

96

DAIRAGI

5-

The

Some of their devotees wear the centre red one is Sita. ochre-coloured clothes like the Sivite mendicants. The second of the four orders is that of the Nimanandis,
called
after a saint

Nlmanandis.

Nimanand.

He

lived

near

Mathura

Brindaban, and on one occasion was engaged in religious He then offered controversy with a Jain ascetic till sunset. his visitor some refreshment, but the Jain could not eat anything after sunset, so Nimanand stopped the sun from

and ordered him to wait above a nlm tree till the was cooked and eaten under the tree, and this Hence Nimanand, whose direction the sun duly obeyed. original name was Bhaskaracharya, was called by his new name after the tree, and was afterwards held to have been an incarnation of Vishnu or the Sun. The doctrines of the sect, Mr. Growse states,-^ are of
setting,

meal

a very enlightened character.

Thus

their tenet of salvation

by faith is thought by many scholars to have been directly while another article in their derived from the Gospels conscious individual existence of creed is the continuance in a future world, when the highest reward of the good will not be extinction, but the enjoyment of the visible presence of the divinity whom they have served while on The Nimanandis worship Krishna, and were the earth.
;

first

sect,

Dr.

as

divine
loves.

consort

Bhattacharya states," to associate with him Radha, the chief partner of his

illicit

is

Their headquarters arc at Muttra, and their chief festival Their sectthe Janam-Ashtami^ or Krishna's birthday.
consists of

mark

two white

lines

down
is

the forehead with

a bl,ack patch in the centre, which

called Shiambindini.

6.

The

They also black, and is a name of Krishna. have a circular line across the nose, which represents the moon. The third great order is that of the Madhavas, named
Shiam means
sometimes

Madhavacharyas.

He Madhavachfirya in southern India. attempted to reconcile the warring Sivites and Vishnuites by combining the worship of Krisiina with that of Siva
after a saint called
'

Memoir of Matlinra.
as

I>it.

Krishna was

the birth on the eitjhth day, born on the 8th of

Hi)idn

Ca<:les

and

Sects, p.

449.

(iaik r.iiadon.

II

TIJE VALJ.AnHACl/ARVAS
Pfirvati.
is

97

and
soul

The

doctrine of the sect

is

that the
its

different from

the divine soul, and

human members arc

therefore called dualists.

They admit

a distinction between

the divine soul and the universe, and between the


soul

human

and the material world. They deny also the possibility of Nirvana or the absorption and extinction of the human
soul in the divine essence.
initiation,

They destroy

their thread

at

and also wear red clothes like the Sivite devotees, and like them also they carry a staff and water-pot. The tilak of the Madhavacharyas is said to consist of two white lines down the forehead and continued on to the nose where they meet, with a black vertical line between them. The fourth main order is the Vishnu-Swami, which is much better known as the Vallabhacharya sect, called after its founder Vallabha, who was born in A.D. 1479. The god Krishna appeared to him and ordered him to marry and set up a shrine to the god at Gokul near Mathura (Muttra). The sect worship Krishna in his character of Bala Gopala or the cowherd boy. Their temples are numerous all over India, and especially at Mathura and Brindaban, where Krishna was brought up as a cowherd. The temples at Benares, Jagannath and Dwarka are rich and important, but the most celebrated shrine is at Sri Nathadwara in Mewar. The image is said to have transported itself thither from Mathura, when Aurangzeb ordered its temple at Mathura to be destroyed. Krishna is here
little boy in the act of supporting the mountain Govardhan on his finger to shelter the people from the storms of rain sent by Indra. The image is splendidly dressed and richly decorated with ornaments to the value of several thousand pounds. The images of Krishna in the temples are commonly known as Thakurji, At all Vallabhacharya and are either of stone or brass.

7-

The

chlrvas'^

represented as a

temples

there are
levee,

eight

daily

morning
from
his

little

after sunrise,

couch

and

bathed

the Mangala or when the god is taken the Sringara, when he is


services
:

attired in his jewels

and seated on

his throne

the Gwala,

when he is supposed to be starting to graze his cattle in the woods of Braj the Raj Bhog or midday meal, which, after presentation, is consumed by the priests and votaries
;

VOL.

II

98

BAIRAGI
assisted at the ceremonies
;

part

who have
Bhog
sunset

three o'clock,

when

the god awakes


;

or evening collation
;

the Uttapan, about from his siesta the the Sandhiya or disrobing at
;

The ritual is and the Sayan or retiring to rest. performed by the priests and the lay worshipper is only a spectator, who shows his reverence by the same forms as he would to a human superior/ The priests of the sect are called Gokalastha Gosain or They are considered to be incarnations of the Maharaja. honours are paid to them. They always divine god, and obtained union with the is best avow that god marry, and by indulgence in all bodily enjoyments. This doctrine has led to great licentiousness in some groups of the sect, Women especially on the part of the priests or Maharajas. were taught to believe that the service of and contact with the priest were the most real form of worshipping the god, and that intercourse with him was equivalent to being Dr. Bhattacharya quotes ^ the followunited with the god.
ing
tariff

for

the

privilege of obtaining different degrees

of contact with the

body of the Maharaja


.

or priest

For homage by sight For homage by touch For the honour of washing the Maha.
.

Rs.

5.

Rs. 20.

raja's foot

For swinging him For rubbing sweet unguents on

body

For being allowed to sit with him on the same couch For the privilege of dancing with him For drinking the water in which he
. . .

has bathed For being closeted with him

same room

.... .... ..... ..... .... ....


his
in

Rs. 35.

Rs. 40.
Rs. 42.

Rs. 60.

Rs. 100 to 200.


Rs. 17.

the

Rs, 50 to 500.

The

public
^

disapprobation caused
7'rihes

by these practices

Mr. Crookc's
'^

Hindu

Castes

and Castes, art. Vallabhacharya. and Sects, p. 457.

Beijtrcse. t\..>.,

Verb\

ANCHORITE SITTING ON IRON

NAILS.

MINOR SECTS
their

99

and
in

bad

effect

on the morality of
libel

women

culminated

the great Maharfij

suit in the

l^ombay High Court


it

in

1862.

Since then the objectionable features of the cult


has produced
liberality

have to a large extent disappeared, while

some

priests of exceptional
tilak of the

and

enlightenment.

The

Vallabhacharyas is said to consist of two white lines down the forehead, forming a half-circle at its They will not admit base and a white dot between them. the lower castes into the order, but only those from whom a Brahman can take water. Besides the main sects as described above, Vaishnavism has produced many minor sects, consisting of the followers of some saint of special fame, and mendicants belonging
to these are included
in

8.

Minor

^*^'^'^"

the

body of

Bairagis.

legends concerning such saints


order
is

may

be given.

One or two A common


a dot.

that of the Bendiwale, or those

who wear

Their founder began putting a red dot on his forehead between the two white lines in place of the long red line
of the Ramanandis.

His associates asked him

why

he had

He said that the dared to alter his tilak or sect-mark. goddess Janki had given him the dot, and as a test he went and bathed in the Sarju river, and rubbed his forehead with water, and all the sect-mark was rubbed out except the dot.
So the others recognised the
goddess, and he founded
of Vishnu.
cloth
special

intervention of the
sect
is

sect.

Another

called

the Chaturbhuji or four-armed, Chaturbhuj being an epithet

He was taking part in a feast when his loincame undone behind, and the others said to him that as this had happened, he had become impure at the feast. He replied, Let him to whom the dhoti belongs tie it up,'
'

and immediately four arms sprang from his body, and while two continued to take food, the other two tied up his loinThus it was recognised that the Chaturbhuji cloth behind. Vishnu had appeared in him, and he was venerated. Among the Bairagis, besides the four Sampradayas or main orders, there are seven Akharas. These are military divisions or schools for training, and were instituted when the Bairagis had to fight with the Gosains, Any member can belong of one of the four Sampradayas to any one of the seven Akharas, and a man can change his Akhara as

9.

The

^^^"^^^g

lOo

BA TRAGI

part

often as he likes, but not his Sampradaya.

with the exception of the Lasgaris,


centre line of the
special sect-marks.

The Akharas, who change the red


no

Ramanandis

into a white line, have

They

are distinguished

by

their flags

or

standards,

which are

elaborately

decorated with gold


to

thread embroidered on silk or sometimes with jewels, and


cost

two or three hundred

rupees

standards were carried by the


the Akhara,

Naga

or

prepare. These naked members of

who went

in front
all

and fought.

Once

in

twelve

years a great meeting of

the seven Akharas

is

held at

Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain or Hardwar, where they bathe and wash the image of the god in the water of the holy rivers. The quarrels between the Bairagis and Gosains usually occurred at the sacred rivers, and the point of conThe following tention was which sect should bathe first. Digambari, Khaki, Munjia, is a list of the seven Akharas Kathia, Nirmohi, Nirbani or Niranjani and Lasgari. The name of the Digamber or Meghdamber signifies They do penance sky-clad or cloud-clad, that is naked. in the rainy season by sitting naked in the rain for two or three hours a day with an earthen pot on the head and the hands inserted in two others so that they cannot rub the skin. In the dry season they wear only a little cloth The round the waist and ashes over the rest of the body. ashes are produced from burnt cowdung picked up off the ground, and not mixed with straw like that which is
:

prepared for

fuel.

During and kneel between them with the head and legs and arms stretched towards the fires. The fires are kindled at noon with little heaps of cowdung cakes, and the penitent stays between them till they go out. They also have a block of wood with a hole through it, into which they insert the organ of generation and suspend it by chains in front and behind. They rub ashes on the body, from which they probably get their name of Khaki or dust-colour. The Munjia Akhara have a belt made of inunj grass round the \vaist, and a little apron also of grass, which is Formerly they hsung from -it, and passed through the legs.
Bairagis also rub ashes on the body.

The Khaki

the four hot months they

make

five

fires

in

circle,

:i:i

'b

II

THE DWARAS

loi

wore no other clothes, but now they have a cloth. They also do penance between the fires. The Kathias have a waist-belt of bamboo fibre, to which is suspended the wooden block for the purpose already described. Their name signifies wooden, and is probably given to them on account of this custom. The Nirmohi carry a lota or brass vessel and a little cup, in which they receive alms. The Nirbani wear only a piece of string or rope round o^h passing the waist, to which is attached a small strip o'^

When begging, they carry a kawar or through the legs. banghy, holding two baskets covered with cloth, and into They never remove the cloth, this they put all their alms. but plunge their hands into the basket at random when they want something to eat. They call the basket Kamdhenu, the name of the cow which gave inexhaustible wealth. These Bairagis commonly marry and accumulate property.
The Lasgari
are soldiers, as the

name

denotes.^

They

wear three straight lines of sandalwood up the forehead. It is said that on one occasion the Bairagis were suddenly attacked by the Gosains when they had only made the white lines of the sect-mark, and they fought as they were. In consequence of this, they have ever since worn three white lines and no red one. Others say that the Lasgari are a branch of the Digambari Akhara, and that the Munjia and Kathia are branches of the Khaki Akhara. They give three other Akharas Niralankhi, Mahanirbani and Santokhi about which nothing is known. Besides the Akharas, the Bairagis are said to have fiftytwo Dwaras or doors, and every man must be a member of a Dwara as well as of a Sampradaya and Akhara. The Dwaras seem to have no special purpose, but in the case

^o.

The

i^w^ras.

of

Bairagis

who

sections, so that

marry, they now serve as exogamous members of the same Dwara do not interhas his head shaved,
basil,
'

marry.

A candidate
mantra or text
initiation

for initiation

is is

invested n.

initia-

with a necklace of beads of the tulsi or


relating to

and

taught a ^

''"'

appearance

The Vishnu by his preceptor. text of the Ramanandis is said to be Ovi Rdniaya
1

and
'="^^"^^-

From

laskkar,

an army.

I02

BAIRAGI

Namali, or 0)n, Salutation to Rama. Om is a very sacred syllable, having much magical power. Thereafter the novice must journey to Dwarka in Gujarat and have his body branded with hot iron or copper in the shape of Vishnu's the cJiakra or discus, the guda or club, the four implements shank or conch-shell and the padina or lotus. Sometimes these are not branded but are made daily on the arms with The sect-mark should be made with Gopichandan or clay. the milkmaid's sandalwood. This is supposed to be clay taken from a tank at Dwarka, in which the Gopis or milkmaids who had been Krishna's companions drowned themselves when they heard of his death. But as this can seldom be obtained any suitable whitish clay is used instead. The Bairagis commonly let their hair grow long, after being shaved at initiation, to imitate the old forest ascetics. If a man makes a pilgrimage on foot to some famous shrine he may have his head shaved there and make an offering of his Others keep their hair long and shave it only at the hair. death of their guru or preceptor. They usually wear white clothes, and if a man has a cloth on the upper part of the body it should be folded over the shoulders and knotted at the neck. He also has a cliimta or small pair of tongs, and, if he can obtain it, the skin of an Indian antelope, on which he will sit while taking his food. The skin of this animal is held to be sacred. Every Bairagi before he takes his food should dip a sprig of tulsi or basil into it to sanctify it, and if he cannot get this he uses his necklace of i'///jz'-beads for the purpose instead. The caste abstain from flesh and liquor, but are addicted to the intoxicating drugs, gdnja and bhang or preparations of Indian hemp. A Hindu on meeting a Bairagi will greet him with the phrase Jai Sitaram,' and the Bairagi will answer, Sitaram.' This word is a conjunction of the names of Rama and his consort Sita. When a Bairagi receives alms he will present to the giver a flower and a
:

'

'

sprig of

tidsi.

A
can
large
ally all

man belonging
initiated

to

be

as

any caste except the impure ones Bairagi, and the order is to a
lower castes.
Theoretic;

extent recruited from the

members of the order should eat together but the Brahmans and other high castes belonging to it now eat only

-C

</)

-.

t)

-5

w
a.
q:

^
-g

= Q

o
< S

5
.E

II

SOCIAL rosrriON

and customs
all

103

among
special

themselves, except on the occasion of a Ghosti or


religious assembly,

when

eat in

common.

As

matter of fact the order is a very mixed assortment of Many persons who lost their caste in the famine people. of 1 897 from eating in Government poor-houses, joined
the order and obtained a have become hopelessly means of escape from character, who have been
live

respectable position.

Debtors who
find
in
it

involved
their

sometimes

creditors.

Women

of bad

expelled from their caste, are also

frequently enrolled as female members, and in monasteries

openly with the men.


deal of crime.

The

caste

is

also responsible for

Not only is the disguise a very cona good venient one for thieves and robbers to assume on their members of the order are travels, but many regular Nevertheless large numbers of Bairagis criminally disposed. are men who have given up their caste and families from a genuine impulse of self-sacrifice, and the desire to lead a
religious
life.

On
good

account of their sanctity the Bairagis have a


position,

fairly

13. Social

social

and

respectable

accept cooked food from them.


always, take water.
to the

Hindu castes will Brahmans usually, but not

and""
customs,

They act as gurus or spiritual guides laymen of all castes who can become Bairagis. They give the Ram and Gopal Mantras, or the texts of Rama and Krishna, to their disciples of the three twice-born castes, and the Sheo Mantra or Siva's text to other castes. The last is
considered to be of smaller religious efficacy than the others, and is given to the lower castes and members of the higher

who do not lead a particularly virtuous life. They invest boys with the sacred thread, and make the sect-mark on their foreheads. When they go and visit their disciples they
ones
receive presents, but

do not ask them

to confess their sins

nor impose penalties. If a mendicant Bairagi keeps a woman it is stated that he is expelled from the community, but this rule does not If he is detected in a seem to be enforced in practice. casual act of sexual intercourse a fine should be imposed,
such
as

feeding

property of an
chela or disciple.

The two or three hundred Bairagis. unmarried Bairagi descends to a selected The bodies of the dead are usually burnt,

I04

BAIRAGI
put round the body to preserve

but those of saints specially famous for their austerities or


piety are buried, and salt
it.

is

Such men are known

as Bhakta.

The

Bairagis

have numerous

maths or

monasteries,

scattered over the country and usually attached to temples.

The Math comprises a set of huts or chambers for the Mahant or superior and his permanent pupils a temple and often the Samadhi or tomb of the founder, or of some eminent Mahant and a Dharmsala or charitable hostel for the accommodation of wandering members of the order, and of other travellers who are constantly visiting the temple.
;
;

Ingress and egress are free to ception of any


rule, a

all,

and, indeed, a restraint on

personal liberty seems never to have entered into the consmall

Hindu religious number of resident


attendants
travel

legislator.
cJielas

There

are, as

or disciples

who
also

are
out-

scholars

and

on

the

superiors,

and

members who

over
in

the

country and

return to the

monastery as a headquarters.

The monastery has commonly


land,
their

some small endowment


out and beg for alms

and the resident

cJielas

go

for

Mahant

is

married the headship


is

common support. may descend in his

If the

family

unmarried his successor is one of his disciples, who is commonly chosen by election at a meeting of the Mahants of neighbouring monasteries. Formerly the Hindu governor of the district would preside at such an election, but it is now, of course, left entirely to the Bairagis themselves.

but when he

Large numbers of Bairagis now marry and have children, and have formed an ordinary caste. The married Bairagis are held to be inferior to the celibate mendicants, and will take food from them, but the mendicants will not permit the married Bairagis to eat with them in the cJiauka or place purified for the taking of food. The customs of
the

married

Bairagis

resemble

those of ordinary

Hindu

castes such as the Kurmis.

They permit

divorce and the

remarriage of widows, and burn the dead. Those who have taken to cultivation do not, as a rule, plough with their own
hands.
^

Many

Bairagis have acquired property and


is

become

This paragraph

taken from Professor Wilson's Account of Hindu Sects in

the Asiatic Researches.

II

BALAHI
Two
such

105

landholders, and others have extensive moneylendin^ transactions.

men who had

acquired

possession of
in satis-

extensive tracts of zamlndari land in Chhattlsgarh,


zamlndfirs,

faction of loans made to the Gond and had been given the zamlndari status by the Marathas, were subsequently made Feudatory Chiefs of the Nandgaon and Chhuikhadan States. These chiefs now marry and the States descend in their families by primogeniture in the ordinary manner. As a rule, the Bairagi landowners and moneylenders are not found to be particularly good specimens

of their class.
Balahi.^

A low
in

functional caste of weavers

and

village

i.

General

watchmen found
and
in

the

Central India.

Nimar and Hoshangabad Districts They numbered 52,000 persons in


1,

notice.

the Central Provinces in 191

being practically confined to

the two Districts already mentioned.

The name
calls,

is

a cor-

ruption of the Hindi bnldhi, one

who

or a messenger.

The

Balahis seem to be an occupational group, probably an

offshoot of the large Kori caste of weavers, one of

whose

subdivisions

is

shown

as

Balahi in

the United

Provinces.

In the Central Provinces they have received accretions from


the spinner caste of Katias, themselves probably a branch of
the Koris, and from the Mahars, the great menial caste of

Bombay.

In

Hoshangabad they

are

known

alternatively as

Mahar, while in Burhanpur they are called Bunkar or weaver by outsiders. The following story which they tell They about themselves also indicates their mixed origin.
say that their ancestors came to Nimar as part of the
of Raja
soldiers

army

Man of Jodhpur, who invaded the country when it was under Muhammadan rule. He was defeated, and his
were captured and ordered to be
killed."

the Balahis

among them won among

the

favour of the

One of Muham-

madan

general and asked for his


the

the other Balahis from

own freedom and that of The Musalman prisoners.

^ This article is based on papers by Mr. Habib Ullah, Pleader, Burhanpur, Mr. W. Bagley, Subdivisional Officer, and Munsh Kanhya Lai, of the Gazet-

reminiscence of the historical fact that a Malvva army was misled by a Gond guide in the Nimar forests and cut up

teer office.
2

This legend

is

probably a vague

by the local Muhammadan ruler. The well-known Raja Man of Jodhpur was, it is believed, never in Nimar.

io6

BALA HI
that
prisoners

PART

he would be unable to determine which of were really Balahis, On this the Balahi, was Ganga whose name Kochla, replied that he had an effective test. He therefore killed a cow, cooked its flesh and invited the prisoners to partake of it. So many of them as consented to eat were considered to be Balahis and liberated but many members of other castes thus obtained their freedom, and they and their descendants are now included in the community. The subcastes or endogamous groups distinctly indicate the functional character of the caste, the names given being Nimari, Gannore, Katia, Kori and Mahar. Of these Katia, Kori and Mahar are the
replied

the

names of

distinct castes,

Nimari

is

a local subdivision in-

dicating those

who speak

the peculiar dialect of this tract,

and the Gannore are no doubt named after the Rajput clan of that name, of whom their ancestors were not improbably the illegitimate offspring. The Nimari Balahis are said to rank lower than the rest, as they will eat the flesh of dead cattle which the others refuse to do. They may not take water from the village well, and unless a separate one can be assigned to them, must pay others to draw water for them. Partly no doubt in the hope of escaping from this degraded position, many of the Nimari group became Christians in the famine of 1897. They are considered to be the oldest residents of Nimar. At marriages the Balahi
receives as his perquisite the leaf-plates used for feasts with

the leavings of food upon In

them

and
its

at

funerals he takes
to the burning-

the cloth which covers the corpse on


glidt.

way

Nimar the Korkus and Balahis each have a separate burying-ground which is known as Murghata.^ The
Katias weave the finer kinds of cloth and rank a little higher than the others. In Burhanpur, as already stated,
as Bunkar, and they are probably Bunkars of Khandesh Bunkar is simply an occupational term meaning a weaver. The caste have the usual system of exogamous groups, some of which are named after villages, while the designations of others are apparently nicknames given to the founder of the clan, as Bagmar, a tiger-killer, Bhagoria, a runaway,

the

caste

are

known

identical with the

2.

Mar-

"^^^'

The ghat

or river-bank for the disposal of corpses.

11

orITER CUSTOMS
so
on.

107

and

They employ

Brahman

to

calculate

the

horoscopes of a bridal couple and fix the date of their wedding, but if he says the marriage is inauspicious, they merely obtain the permission of the caste panchdyat and

on a Saturday or Sunday. Apparently, however, they do not consult real Brahmans, but merely priests of their own caste whom they call Balahi Brahmans. These Brahmans are, nevertheless, said to recite the Satya Narayan Katha. They also have gums or spiritual preceptors, being members and of the caste who have joined the mendicant orders Bhats or genealogists of their own caste who beg at their weddings. They have the practice of serving for a wife, known as Gharjamai or Lamjhana. When the pauper suitor is finally married at the expense of his wife's father, a marriage -shed is erected for him at the house of some
celebrate
it
;

neighbour,

but

his

own

family

are

not

invited

to

the

wedding.
After marriage a girl goes to her husband's house for a The first Diwali or Akha-tij festival few days and returns. after the wedding must also be passed at the husband's house, but consummation is not effected until the ama or gauna ceremony is performed on the attainment of puberty. The cost of a wedding is about Rs. 80 to the bridegroom's
family and Rs. 20 to the bride's family. A widow is forbidden to marry her late husband's brother or other relatives.

At

the wedding she

is

dressed in

new

clothes,

and the

fore-

heads of the couple are marked with cowdung as a sign of purification. They then proceed by night to the husband's
village,

and the woman waits

till

morning

in

some empty
which she
is

building,

when she
it.

enters her husband's house carrying two


in

water-pots on her head


to bring to

token of the

fertility

Like the Mahars, the Balahis must not kill a dog or a but it is peculiar that in their case the bear is held equally sacred, this being probably a residue of some totemistic observance. The most binding form of oath which they can use is by any one of these animals. The Balahis will admit any Hindu into the community except a man of the very lowest castes, and also Gonds and Korkus. The head and face of the neophyte
cat under pain of expulsion
;

3.

other

io8

BALIJA
and he
is

PART

on the ground under a string-cot on this and wash themselves, letting the water drip from their bodies on to he then gives a the man below until he is well drenched feast to the caste-fellows, and is considered to have become It is reported also that they will receive back a Balahi. into the community Balahi women who have lived with men of other castes and even with Jains and Muhammadans. They will take food from members of these religions and of any Hindu caste, except the most impure.
are shaved clean,
;

made

to lie

a number of the Balahis

sit

1.

Origin
.

Balija,

Balji,

Gurusthulu,
' '

Naidu.

A
'

large

trading

f"*^. traditions.

caste of the

persons.
in

191

1,

Madras Presidency, where they number a million In the Central Provinces 1200 were enumerated excluding 1500 Perikis, who though really a sub-

and not a very exalted one of Balijas,^ claim to be a separate caste. They are mainly returned from places where Madras troops have been stationed, as Nagpur, Jubbulpore and Raipur. The caste are frequently known as Naidu, a corruption of the Telugu word Nayakdu, a prince or leader. Their ancestors are supposed to have been Nayaks or kings of Madura, Tanjore and Vijayanagar. The traditional occupation of the caste appears to have been to make bangles and pearl and coral ornaments, and they have In Madras still a subcaste called Gazulu, or a bangle-seller.
caste

they are said to be an offshoot of the great cultivating castes of Kamma and Kapu and to be a mixed community recruited from these and other Telugu castes. Another proof of their mixed descent may be inferred from the fact that they will

admit persons of other castes or the descendants of mixed


the community without much scruple in The name of Balija seems also to have been applied to a mixed caste started by Basava, the founder of the Lingayat sect of Sivites, these persons being known in

marriages
Madras.^

into

Madras
2.

as

Linga

Balijas.

Mar-

The
Peta, the

Balijas have

riage.

two main divisions, Desa or Kota, and Desas or Kotas being those who claim descent from
like the

the old Balija kings, while the Petas are the trading Balijas,

and are further subdivided into groups


1

Gazulu or
226.

Madras Census Report (1891),

p.

277.

Ibidej?i (1891), p.

II

OCCUPATION AND SOCIAL STATUS


and the Pcriki or
salt-sellers.

109

banglc-sellcrs

The

subdivisions

Every family has a surname, and exogamous groups or gotras also exist, but these have generally been forgotten, and marriages are regulated by the
are not strictly cndoj^amous.

surnames, the only prohibition

being that persons of the

same surname may not intermarry. Instances of such names Singiri, Gudari, Jadal, Sangnad and Dasiri. In fact are the rules of exogamy are so loose that an instance is known
:

of an uncle having married his niece.


infant,

Marriage

is

usually

and the ceremony lasts for five days.

On

the

first

day

the bride and bridegroom are seated on a yoke in the

pandal or marriage pavilion, where the relatives and guests The bridegroom puts a pair of silver rings on the assemble. bride's toes and ties the mangal-sfitravi or flat circular piece of gold round her neck. On the next three days the bridegroom and bride are made to sit on a plank or cot face to face with each other and to throw flowers and play together for two hours in the mornings and evenings. On the fourth day, at dead of night, they are seated on a cot and the jewels and gifts for the bride are presented, and she is then formally handed over to the bridegroom's family. In Madras Mr. Thurston ^ states that on the last day of the marriage ceremony a mock ploughing and sowing rite is held, and during this, the sister of the bridegroom puts a cloth over the basket containing earth, wherein seeds are to be sown by the bridegroom, and will not allow him to go on with the ceremony till she has extracted a promise that his firstborn daughter shall marry her son. No bride-price is paid, and the remarriage of widows is forbidden. The Balijas bury their dead in a sitting posture. In the Central Provinces they are usually Lingayats and especially worship Gauri, Siva's wife. Jangams serve them as priests, They usually eat flesh and drink liquor, but in Chanda it
is

3-

Occupa-

soc'iai^

status.

stated that both these practices are forbidden.

In the
of

Central Provinces they are mainly cultivators, but

in them still sell bangles and salt. Government service and occupy a fairly high social position. In Madras a curious connection exists between the Kapus and Balijas and the impure Mala caste. It is said
1

some Several of them are

Ethnographic Notes in Southern India,

p.

16,

no
that once

BALIJA
upon a time the Kapus and
Balijas

partii

were flying from

the

Muhammadans and came


across, but

to the northern Pallar river in

They besought the river to go down and let it demanded the sacrifice of a first-born While the Kapus and Balijas were hesitating, the child. Malas who had followed them boldly sacrificed one of their
high flood.

them

river divided before them and Ever since then the Kapus and Balijas have respected the Malas, and the Balijas formerly even deposited the images of the goddess Gauri, of Ganesha, and of Siva's bull with the Malas, as the hereditary custo-

children.
all

Immediately the

they

crossed in safety.

dians of their gods.^


1

Madras Census Report

(1S91),

p.

277.

BANIA
LIST OF
1

PARAGRAPHS
14.

Gc7ic7-al ttoticc.

Religiofi

the

god Ganpati or

2.

3.

The Banias a true caste : use of the name. Their distinctive occupation.
Tlicir distinctive status.

Ganesh.
1

16.
17.

Diwdli festival. Holi festival.


Social customs:
food.
rules about

4.
5.

The endogamous divisions of


the Banias.

6.

The Batiias derived from


Riijputs.

the

18.

Character of the Bania.


Dislike of the cultivators toTvards him.

19.

7.

Banias employed as ministers


in Rajpiit courts.
20.
2
I
.

His
'The

virtues.

8.

Subcastes.

9.

o.

Hindu and fain subcastes : divisions among subcastes. Exogamy and rules regulating
marriage. Marriage customs.

moneylender changed J or

the worse.
22.
23.

The enforcement of contracts.


Cash
coi?iage ajul the rate

of

interest.

1 1

12.

Polygamy
7'iage.

and widoiu-marof the

24.

Proprietary

and

transferable

rights in land.

13.

Disposal

dead

and

2
2

The Ba7tia as a landlord.

mournins:.

Commercial honesty.

LIST OF
1.

SUBORDINATE ARTICLES ON SUBCASTES


10.
11.

Agarwala, Aganval.
Agrahari. Ajudhiabasi, Audhia. Asathi. Charnagri, Channagri,
aiya.

Kasarwani.

2. 3. 4.
5.

Kasaundhan.
Khandelwal. Lad.
Lingayat. Maheshri.

12.
1

3.

Sam-

14. 15.

6.
7.

8.

9.

Dhusar, Bhargava Dhusar. Dosar, Dusra. Gahoi. Golapurab, Golahre.


20.

16. 17.

Nema.

Oswal. 18. Parwar.


19.

Srimali.

Umre.

Bania,

Bani,

Vani,

Mahajan, Seth, Sahukar.

The

i.

General

occupational caste of bankers, moneylenders and dealers in

no^'ce.

BAN/A
grain, ^//f (butter), groceries

and

spices.

The name Bania

is

derived from the Sanskrit vanij\ a merchant.

In western

2.

The

Mahajan means a great man, and being applied to successful Banias as an honorific title has now come to signify a banker or moneylender Seth signifies a great merchant or The capitalist, and is applied to Banias as an honorific prefix. words Sdhu, Sao and SdJiukdr mean upright or honest, and have also, curiously enough, come to signify a moneylender. The total number of Banias in the Central Provinces in 191 1 was about 200,000, or rather over one per cent of Of the above total two-thirds were Hindus the population. The caste is fairly distributed over the and one-third Jains. whole Province, being most numerous in Districts with large towns and a considerable volume of trade. There has been much difference of opinion as to whether
literally
;

India the Banias are always called Vania or Vani.

Banias a
true caste
:

use

name^

to signify a caste, or whether merely an occupational term applied to a number of venture to think it is necessary and I distinct castcs. In Bengal the scientifically correct to take it as a caste. word Banian, a corruption of Bania, has probably come to be a general term meaning simply a banker, or person But this does not seem to be the case dealing in money. As a rule the name Bania is used only elsewhere. as a caste name for groups who are considered both by It themselves and outsiders to belong to the Bania caste. may occasionally be applied to members of other castes, as in the case of certain Teli-Banias who have abandoned oilpressing for shop-keeping, but such instances are very rare and these Tel is would probably now assert that they belonged That the Banias are recognised as a disto the Bania caste.

the
it

name Bania should be taken

is

tinct caste

by the people is shown by the number of uncomplimentary proverbs and sayings about them, which is far In all these the larger than in the case of any other caste.^ name Bania is used and not that of any subdivision, and this indicates that none of the subdivisions are looked upon
as distinctive social groups or castes.

Moreover, so
caste,

far as I
all
is

am

aware, the

name Bania
classified
^

is

applied regularly to

the

groups usually

under the

and there

no

See para. 19 below.

II

BAN!

it3

group which objects to the name or whose members refuse This is by no means always to describe themselves by it. The Rathor Telis of the case with other important castes. Mandla entirely decline to answer to the name of Teli, In the case of though they are classified under that caste. the important Ahir or grazier caste, those who sell milk instead of grazing cattle are called Gaoli, but remain members of the AhIr caste. An AhIr in Chhattlsgarh would be called Rawat and in the Maratha Districts Gowari, but The Barai caste of betelmight still be an AhIr by caste. vine growers and sellers is in some localities called Tamboli
elsewhere it is known only as Pansari, and not Barai though the name Pansari is correctly an occupational term, and, where it is not applied to the Barais, means a grocer or Bania, on the other druggist by profession and not a caste.
;

hand, over the


persons

greater

part of India

is

applied

only to

who acknowledge themselves and are generally recognised by Hindu society to be members of the Bania caste, and there is no other name which is generally applied to any
considerable section of such persons.
Certain of the more
the subcaste

important subcastes of Bania, as the Agarwala, Oswal and


Parwar,
are,
it

is

true,

frequently

known by

But the caste name is as often as not, or even more Agarwala, or Agarwala Bania, are names it. equally applied to designate this subcaste, and similarly with and even so the subcaste name is the Oswals and Parwars only applied for greater accuracy and for compliment, since the Bania's quarter of a town these are the best subcastes will be called Bania Mahalla, and its residents spoken of as Banias, even though they may be nearly all Agarwrds or Oswals. Several Rajput clans are similarly spoken of by their clan names, as Rathor, Panwar, and so on, without the addition
name.
often, affixed to
;
;

of the caste

name

Rajput.

Brahman

subcastes are usually

mentioned by their subcaste name for greater accuracy, though in their case too it is usual to add the caste name.

And

there are subdivisions of other castes, such as the Jaiswar

Chamars and the Somvansi Mehras, who invariably speak of themselves only by their subcaste name, and discard the caste name altogether, being ashamed of it, but are neverThus in the theless held to belong to their parent castes.
VOL.
II
I

114

BANIA

3.

Their

matter of common usage Bania conforms in all respects to the requirements of a proper caste name. The Banias have also a distinct and well - defined
traditional occupation/

distinctive

occupation.

which

is

followed by

many

or most

members
observed.

of practically every subcaste so far as has been

to be credited with special mental


in

This occupation has caused the caste as a body and moral characteristics

popular estimation, to a greater extent perhaps than any

other caste.
traditional

None

of the subcastes are

ashamed of
it.

their

occupation or try to abandon

It is

true that

a few subcastes such as the


sellers

Kasaundhans and Kasarwanis,

of metal vessels, apparently had originally a some-

what different profession, though resembling the traditional one but they too, if they once only sold vessels, now engage largely in the traditional Bania's calling, and deal generally in grain and money. The Banias, no doubt because it is both profitable and respectable, adhere more generally to their traditional occupation than almost any
;

great caste, except the cultivators.

^ Mr. Marten's analysis of the occupations of different castes shows that sixty per while only cent of the Banias are still engaged in trade
;

nineteen per cent of

Brahmans

follow a religious calling

twenty-nine per cent of Ahirs are graziers, cattle-dealers or milkmen only nine per cent of Telis are engaged in all branches of industry, including their traditional occupation
;

of

oil

pressing

and similarly only twelve

per

cent

of of

Chamars work
curing hides.

at industrial occupations, including that

In respect of occupation therefore the Banias


also a distinctive social

strictly fulfil the definition of a caste.


4.

Their

The Banias have

status.

They
;

distinctive
status.

are considered, though perhaps incorrectly, to represent the

Vaishyas or third great division of the Aryan twice-born they rank just below Rajputs and perhaps above all other castes except Brahmans Brahmans will take food cooked without water from many Banias and drinking-water from and the all. Nearly all Banias wear the sacred thread Banias are distinguished by the fact that they abstain more rigorously and generally from all kinds of flesh food than
; ;

See commencement of article. C.P. Census Report (191 1), Occu-

pation
p.

Chapter,

Subsidiary

Table

I.

234.

II

rilE

ENDOGAMOUS DIVISIONS OF THE BANIAS

115

strict,

any other caste. Their rules as to diet are exceptionally and are equally observed by the great majority of the
5.

subdivisions.

Thus the Banias apparently fulfil the definition of a rroups of one or more endoiramous & caste, as consisting: *^ r or name applied to them all and to subcastes with a distinct them only, a distinctive occupation and a distinctive social status and there seems no reason for not considering them If on the other hand we examine the subcastes a caste. of Bania we find that the majority of them have names
'
fc>
;

The

'="'^'"K''^"

mous
divisions of
^
*"

^"'^^'

derived from places,^ not indicating any separate origin, occupation or status, but only residence in separate tracts. Such divisions are properly termed subcastes, being endoga-

mous only, and in no other way distinctive. No subcaste can be markedly distinguished from the others in respect of occupation or social status, and none apparently can
There are no doubt substantial differences in status between the highest subcastes of Bania, the Agarwals, Oswals and Parwars, and the lower ones, the Kasaundhan, Kasarwani, Dosar and But this diflference is not so great as that which others. separates different groups included in such important castes It is true again that subcastes like as Rajput and Bhat. the Agarwals and Oswals are individually important, but not more so than the Maratha, Khedawal, Kanaujia and Maithil Brahmans, or the Sesodia, Rathor, Panwar and Jadon Rajputs. The higher subcastes of Bania themselves recognise a common relationship by taking food cooked without water from each other, which is a very rare custom among subcastes. Some of them are even said to have If on the other hand it is argued, not that intermarried. more of the important subdivisions should or three two or castes, but that Bania is not a independent be erected into that every subcaste should be treated as a caste at all, and such purely local groups as Kanaujia, separate caste, then and others, which are found in Jaiswar, Gujarati, Jaunpuri forty or fifty other castes, would have to become separate
therefore be classified as a separate caste.
For examples, the subordinate on Agarwal, Oswal, Maheshri, Khandelwal, Lad, Agrahari, Ajudhia1

basi,

articles

The

census

and Srimali may be consulted, lists contain numerous other


names.

territorial

ii6

BANIA
;

PART

castes

castes

and if in this one case why not in all the other This would result in the imwhere they occur ? possible position of having forty or fifty castes of the same name, which recognise no connection of any kind with each other, and make any arrangement or classification of castes And in 191 i out of 200,000 altogether impracticable. Banias in the Central Provinces, 43,000 were returned with no subcaste at all, and it would therefore be impossible to classify these under any other name. The Banias have been commonly supposed to represent the Vaishyas or third of the four classical castes, both by Hindu society generally and by leading authorities on the It is perhaps this view of their origin which is subject. partly responsible for the tendency to consider them as several castes and not one. But its accuracy is doubtful. The important Bania groups appear to be of Rajput stock. They nearly all -come from Rajputana, Bundelkhand or Gujarat, that is from the homes of the principal Rajput clans. Several of them have legends of Rajput descent. The Agarwalas say that their first ancestor was a Kshatriya king, who married a Naga or snake princess the Naga race is supposed to have signified the Scythian immigrants, who were snake- worshippers and from whom several clans of Rajputs were probably derived. The Agarwalas took their name from the ancient city of Agroha or possibly from Agra. The Oswals say that their ancestor was the Rajput king of Osnagar in Marwar, who with his followers was converted by a Jain mendicant. The Nemas state that their ancestors were fourteen young Rajput princes who escaped the vengeance of Parasurama by abandoning the profession of arms and taking to trade. The Khandelwals take their name from the town of Khandela in Jaipur State of Rajputana. The Kasarwanis say they immigrated from Kara Manikpur in Bundelkhand. The origin of the Umre Banias is not known, but in Gujarat they are also called Bagaria from the Bagar or wild country of the Dongarpur and Pertabgarh States of Rajputana, where numbers of them arc still settled the name Bagaria would appear to indicate that they are supposed to have immigrated thence into The Dhusar Banias ascribe their name to a hill Gujarat.
;
;

Bt^;irose, Couj.. Dt:)by.

IMAGE OF THE GOD GANPATI CARRIED

IN

PROCESSION.

II

THE BANIAS DERIVED FROM THE RAJPUTS

117

Dhusi or Dhosi on the border of Alwar State. The Asfitis say that their original home was Tikamgarh State The name of the Maheshris is held to in Bundelkhand. be derived from Maheshwar, an ancient town on the Nerbudda, near Indore, which is traditionally supposed to have been the earliest settlement of the Yadava Rajputs. The headquarters of the Gahoi Banias is said to have been at Kharagpur in Bundelkhand, though according to their own
called

legend they are of mixed origin. The home of the Srimalis was the old town of Srimal, now Bhinmal in Marwar. The Palliwal Banias were from the well-known trading town of Pali in Marwar. The Jaiswal are said to take their name from Jaisalmer State, which was their native country. The above are no doubt only a fraction of the Bania subcastes, but they include nearly all the most important and representative ones, from whom the caste takes its status and character. Of the numerous other groups the bulk have

probably been brought into existence through the migration and settlement of sections of the caste in dafferent parts of the country, where they have become endogamous and

Other subcastes may be composed who, having taken to trade and prospered, obtained admission to the Bania caste through the efforts of their Brahman priests. But a number of mixed groups of the same character are also found among the Brahmans and Rajputs, and their existence does not invalidate arguments derived from a consideration of the representative subcastes. It may be said that not only the Banias, but many of the low castes have legends showing them to be of Rajput descent of the same character as those quoted above and since in their case these stories have been adjudged spurious and worthless, no greater importance should be attached to those of the Banias. But it must be remembered that in the case of the Banias the stories are reinforced by the fact that the Bania subcastes certainly come from Rajputana no doubt exists that they are of high caste, and that they must either be derived from Brahmans or Rajputs, or themselves represent some separate foreign group but if they are really the descendants of the Vaishyas, the main body of the Aryan immigrants and the third of the four classical
obtained a fresh name.
of bodies
of

persons

ii8 castes,
It

BANIA
might be expected that
origin.

PART
their legends

would show

some
their

trace of this

instead of being
gives

unitedly in favour of
the

Rajput

Colonel
descent.^

Tod
In

catalogue of

eighty -four

mercantile tribes,

whom

this

he states to be chiefly of Rajput list the Agarwal, Oswal, Srimal,


;

while the Khandelwal, Palliwal and Lad subcastes occur Dhakar and Dhusar subcastes may be represented by the names Dhakarwal and Dusora in the lists. The other names given by Tod appear to be mainly small territorial groups of Rajputana. Elsewhere, after speaking of the claims of certain towns in Rajputana to be centres of trade, Colonel Tod remarks " These pretensions we may the more
:

readily admit,

when we

recollect

that

nine-tenths of the

and commercial men of India are natives of Marudesh,'' and these chiefly of the Jain faith. The Oswals, so termed from the town of Osi, near the Luni, estimate one hundred thousand families whose occupation is commerce. All these claim a Rajput descent, a fact entirely unknown to the European inquirer into the peculiarities of
bankers

Hindu manners."

Similarly, Sir D. Ibbetson states that the Maheshri Banias claim Rajput origin and still have subdivisions bearing Rajput names.^ Elliot also says that almost all the mercantile tribes of Hindustan are of Rajput descent.^
It would appear, then, that the Banias are an offshoot from the Rajputs, who took to commerce and learnt to read

and write

for the

purpose of keeping accounts.

The Charans

or bards are another literate caste derived from the Rajputs,


it may be noticed that both the Banias and Charans or Bhats have hitherto been content with the knowledge of their own rude Marwari dialect and evinced no desire for classical

and

learning

or higher

English

education.

Matters

are

now

changing, but this attitude shows that they have hitherto not desired education for itself but merely as an indispensable adjunct to their business.

Being
^

literate,
i.

the Banias were not infrequently


'^

employed

Kajaslhdn,

pp. 76, 109.


in the

Rajasthan,

ii.

p.

145.

That

is

Marwar.

term here is used Rajputana.

But perhaps the wider sense of

Punjab

Censjts Report {1881), p.


p.

293.
''

Supplemental Glossary,

no.

II

sun CASTES
and treasurers
in

119
states.

as ministers
in

Rajput
:

Forbes says,

7.

Hanias

an account of an Indian court " Beside the king stand the warriors of Rajput race or, equally gallant in the field and wiser far in council, the Wania (Bania) Muntreshwars,
already in profession puritans of peace, and not yet drained

asminfslcrs
i" Kfijput

enough of
holding

their

fiery

Kshatriya blood.

...

It

is

remark-

able that so

many

of the officers possessing high rank and

independent commands are represented to have Colonel Tod writes that Nunkurn, the been Wanias," ^ Kachhwaha chief of the Shekhawat federation, had a minister named Devi Das of the Bania or mercantile caste, and, like thousands of that caste, energetic, shrewd and intelligent." Similarly, Muhaj, the Jadon Bhatti chief of Jaisalmer, by an unhappy choice of a Bania minister, comThis minister pleted the demoralisation of the Bhatti state. was named Sarup Singh, a Bania of the Jain faith and Mehta family, whose descendants were destined to be the exterminators of the laws and fortunes of the sons of Jaisal.^ Other instances of the employment of Bania ministers are to Finally, it may be noted that be found in Rajput history. the Banias are by no means the only instance of a mercantile class formed from the Rajputs. The two important trading castes of Khatri and Bhatia are almost certainly of Rajput origin, as is shown in the articles on those castes. The Banias are divided into a large number of endogamous groups or subcastes, of which the most important have been treated in the annexed subordinate articles. The minor subcastes, mainly formed by migration, vary greatly in different provinces. Colonel Tod gave a list of eighty-four in Rajputana, of which eight or ten only can be identified in the Central Provinces, and of thirty mentioned by Bhattacharya as the most common groups in northern India, about
a third are
subcastes

8.

Sub-

unknown

in the Central Provinces.

of such subcastes has already been explained.

The origin The main

may be classified roughly into groups coming from Rajputana, Bundelkhand and the United Provinces. The leading Rajputana groups are the Oswal, Maheshri, Khandelwal, Saitwal, Srimal and Jaiswal. These groups are com^

J\ds?Hala,

i.

pp. 240, 243.


2

Riljasthan,

ii.

p. 360.

Jbid.

ii.

p.

240.

BANIA
monly known as Marwari Bania or simply Marwari. The Bundelkhand or Central India subcastes are the Gahoi, Golapurab, Asati, Umre and Parwar ^ while the Agarwal, Dhusar, Agrahari, Ajudhiabasi and others come from the The Lad subcaste is from Gujarat, United Provinces. while the Lingayats originally belonged to the Telugu and Canarese country. Several of the subcastes coming from the same locality will take food cooked without water from each other, and occasionally two subcastes, as the Oswal and Khandelwal, even food cooked with water or katcJii. This practice is seldom found in other good castes. It is probably due to the fact that the rules about food are less
;

strictly

observed

in

Rajputana.

Another

classification

may

according as they are of the

be made of the subcastes Hindu or Jain religion the


;

important Jain subcastes are the Oswal, Parwar, Golapurab, Saitwal and Charnagar, and one or two smaller ones, as the

The other subcastes are prinBaghelwal and Samaiya. Hindu, but many have a Jain minority, and similarly the Jain subcastes return a proportion of Hindus. The
cipally

difference of religion counts for very


entirely from

little,

as practically all

the non-Jain Banias are strict Vaishnava Hindus, abstain

any kind of
life
;

flesh

meat, and think

it

a sin

to take animal

while on their side the Jains employ

Brahmans for certain purposes, worship some of the local Hindu deities, and observe the principal Hindu festivals. The Jain and Hindu sections of a subcaste have consequently, as a rule, no objection to taking food together, and
will

sometimes intermarry.

Several of the important sub-

castes are subdivided into Bisa

and Dasa, or twenty and ten


is

groups.

The Bisa

or twenty group

of pure descent, or

twenty carat, as it were, while the Dasas are considered to have a certain amount of alloy in their family pedigree. They are the offspring of remarried widows, and perhaps
occasionally of
still

more

irregular unions.

Intermarriage

sometimes takes place between the two groups, and families in the Dasa group, by living a respectable life and marrying well, improve their status, and perhaps ultimately get back
'

The Parwars probably belonged

originally to

Rajputana

see subordinate

article.

II

EXOGAMY AND RULES REGULATING MARRIAGE


As
the Dasas
their
will

121

into the Bisa group.

they

not

admit to

become more respectable communion newly remarried

widows or couples who have married within the prohibited made a incsalliance, and hence a third inferior group, called the Pacha or five, is brought into
degrees, or otherwise

existence to

make room

for these.
10.

Most subcastes have an elaborate system of exogamy. Thcy are either divided into a large number of sections, or into a i^w gotras, usually twelve, each of which is further
Marriage can then be regulated split up into subsections. by forbidding a man to take a wife from the whole of his own section or from the subsection of his mother, grand-

Exo^"

f^ie^
regulating
"^''''^'"'^se-

By this means the mothers and even greatgrandmothers. degrees of relationship union of persons within five or more either through males or females is avoided, and most Ijanias prohibit intermarriage, at any rate nominally, up to five Such practices as exchanging girls between degrees.
families or

marrying two

sisters are, as a rule,

prohibited.

gotras or main sections appear to be frequently named after Brahman Rishis or saints, while the subsections have

The

names of a territorial or titular character. There is generally no recognised custom of paying a bride- or bridegroom -price, but one or two instances of being done are given in the subordinate articles. its On the occasion of betrothal, among some subcastes, the boy's father proceeds to the girl's house and presents her
with a vidla or necklace of gold or silver coins or coral, and The contract of a muiidri or silver ring for the finger.
betrothal
is

n- Marcusloms.

made

at the village

temple and the caste-fellows


Before the
;

sprinkle turmeric and water over the parties.

wedding the ceremony of Benaiki is performed in this the bridegroom, riding on a horse, and the bride on a decorated chair or litter, go round their villages and say farewell to their friends and relations. Sometimes they have a proAmong the cession in this way round the marriage-shed. Marwari Banias a toran or string of mango-leaves is stretched above the door of the house on the occasion of a wedding and left there for six months. And a wooden triangle with figures perched on it to represent sparrows is tied over the door. The binding portion of the wedding is the pro-

122

BANIA
Jain

PART

cession seven times round the marriage altar or post.

In
the

some

subcastes

the

bridegroom

stands

beside

post and the bride walks seven times round him, while he throws sugar over her head at each turn. After the wedding the couple are made to draw figures out of flour
sprinkled

on a brass plate

in

occupation of keeping accounts.


bride's family to give sidha or

token of the bridegroom's It is customary for the

day's consumption to every outsider

uncooked food sufficient for a who accompanies the

marriage party, while to each


visions for

member

of the caste
is

pro-

two

to five days are given.

This

in

addition

to the evening feasts

and involves great expense.

Some-

times the wedding lasts for eight days, and feasts are given

by the bridegroom's party and four days by is said that in some places before a Bania has a wedding he goes before the caste panchdyat and they ask him how many people he is going to invite. If he says
for

four days

the bride's.

It

five

hundred, they prescribe the quantity of the different

kinds of provisions which he must supply. say forty maunds (3 200 lbs.) of sugar and
spices,

Thus they may


flour,

with butter,
'

and other

articles in proportion.
;

He

says,
' ;

Gentle-

men, I am a poor man make it a little less or he says he will give gur or cakes of raw cane sugar instead of refined sugar. Then they say, No, your social position is too high for gur you must have sugar for all purposes.'
'
;

The more
this

guests the host invites the higher


;

is

his

social

consideration
his
life

and
is

it

is

said that
living.

if

not

worth

he does not maintain Sometimes the exact

amount of entertainment to be given at a wedding is fixed, and if a man cannot afford it at the time he must give the balance of the feasts at any subsequent period when he has

money and if he fails to do this he is put out of caste. The bride's father is often called on to furnish a certain sum
;

expenses of the bridegroom's party, and if this money they do not come. The distinctive feature of a Bania wedding in the northern Districts
for the travelling

he does not send


is

that

women accompany
are

the marriage procession, and the


caste
in

which they do this. wedding party in which women are present can be recognised to be a Bania's. In the Maratha
the

Banias

only high

Hence

high-caste

II

rOL YGAM V AND IVIDO IV- MA RRIA GR


women
also go, but here this

123

Districts

other high castes.

The bridegroom's party

custom obtains among hire or borrow a

house in the bride's village, and here they erect a marriageshed and go through the preliminary ceremonies of the wedding on the bridegroom's side as if they were at home. Polygamy is very rare among the Banias, and it is 12. Poiygenerally the rule that a man must obtain the consent of ^tdow^" In the absence of marriage, his first wife before taking a second one.
this precaution for her happiness, parents will refuse to give

him

their daughter.

The

remarriage of widows

is

nominally

prohibited, but frequently occurs,

and remarried widows are

relegated to the inferior social groups in each subcaste as

already described.

Divorce

is

also said to be prohibited,

put away for adultery are allowed to take refuge in such groups instead of being finally but
it

is

probable that

women

expelled.

The dead are cremated as a rule, and the ashes are The bodies of thrown into a sacred river or any stream. epidemic disease from persons dying of young children and must be for an odd mourning period of The are buried. with cooked leaf plate third day a number of days. On the food is placed on the ground where the body was burnt, and Rich on some subsequent day a feast is given to the caste. Widows and young girls Banias will hire people to mourn. are usually employed, and these come and sit before the house for an hour in the morning and sometimes also in the evening, and covering their heads with their cloths, beat their Rich men may hire as breasts and make lamentations. many as ten mourners for a period of one, two or three The Marwaris, when a girl is born, break an months. but earthen pot to show that they have had a misfortune when a boy is born they beat a brass plate in token of
;

13. Dis-

fj^g'^^g^^i

and
'""^'""'"S-

their joy.

An

Nearly all the Banias are Jains or Vaishnava Hindus. 14. Reiiaccount of the Jain religion has been given in a separate |o^G^n^
pati or

and some notice of the retention of Hindu practices is contained in the subordinate article on Parwar Bania. The Vaishnava Banias no less than the Jains are strongly averse to the destruction of animal life, and will not kill any living thing. Their principal deity is the god Ganesh
article,

by the Jains

124

BANIA
Mahadeo and
Parvati,

PART

or Ganpati, the son of

of good-luck, wealth and prosperity.

who is the god Ganesh is represented in sculpture with the head of an elephant and riding on a rat, though the rat is now covered by the body of the god He has a small body like a child's and is scarcely visible. Perhaps his body with a fat belly and round plump arms.
signifies that

he

is

figured as a boy, the son of Parvati or

main source of wealth, and from the appearance of Ganesh it can be understood why he is the god of overflowing granaries, and hence of The elephant is a sacred animal wealth and good fortune. among Hindus, and that on which the king rides. To have an elephant was a mark of wealth and distinction among Banias, and the Jains harness the cars of their gods to
Gauri. In former times grain was the

elephants at their great rath or chariot


'

festival.
;

Gajpati or

'

Gajanand or is an epithet of the god Ganesh and a elephant -faced favourite Hindu name. Gajvlthi or the track of the elephant is a name of the Milky Way, and indicates that there is
lord of elephants
'
'

is

title

given to a king

to be a divine elephant who takes this course The elephant eats so much grain that through the heavens. and only a comparatively rich man can afford to keep one hence it is easy to understand how the attribute of plenty or of wealth was associated with the divine elephant as his special characteristic. Similarly the rat is connected with

believed

overflowing granaries, because when there

Hindu house
too

or store-shed there will be

is much corn in many rats thus


;

a
a

multitude of rats implied a rich household, and so this animal

came

to be a

symbol of wealth.

The Hindus do

not

now
it,

consider the rat sacred, but they have a tenderness for


especially in the

Maratha country.

The more bigoted

of

them objected

to rats being poisoned as a

plague, though

observation has fully


;

means of checking convinced them that

rats spread the plague

and

in

the Bania hospitals, formerly

maintained

for

preserving the lives of animals, a

number of

The rat, in fact, may now be rats were usually to be found. Ganpati in said to stand to the position of a disreputable No attempt is made to deny his existence, poor relation. The god but he is kept in the background as far as possible. Ganpati is also associated with wealth of grain through his

II

RELIGION DIWALI FESTIVAL

125

parentage.

He

is

the offspring of Siva or

Mahadco and
;

his

wife Devi or Gauri.


in his

Mahadeo

is

in this

case probably taken

beneficent cliaracter of the deified bull Devi in her most important aspect as the great mother-goddess is the earth, but as mother of Ganesh she is probably imagined in

her special form of Gauri, the yellow one, that


corn.

is,

the yellow

Gauri
rite

is

closely associated

with Ganesh, and every

important

Ganesh together as an Their conjunction in this manner lends colour to the idea that they are held to be In Rajputana Gauri is worshipped as the mother and son.
bridal couple worship Gauri

Hindu

of the wedding.

corn goddess at the Gangore festival about the time of the


vernal
Gauri,

equinox,

especially

by women.
is

The meaning

of

emblematic of the ripened harvest, when the votaries of the goddess adore her effigies, in the shape of a matron painted the colour of
Colonel
states,

Tod

yellow,

ripe corn.

Here she

is

seen as Ana-purna (the corn-goddess),


"

the benefactress of mankind.

The

rites

the sun enters Aries (the opening of the

commence when Hindu year), by a

deputation to a spot beyond the city to bring earth for the image of Gauri. small trench is then excavated in which

barley

is

sown
till

the ground
grain

is

irrigated

and

artificial

heat
join

supplied

the

germinates,

when the females

hands and dance round it, invoking the blessings of Gauri on their husbands. The young corn is then taken up, distributed and presented by the females to the men, who wear it in their turbans." Thus if Ganesh is the son of Gauri he is the offspring of the bull and the growing corn and his genesis from the elephant and the rat show him equally as the god of full granaries, and hence of wealth and good fortune. We can understand therefore how he is the special god of the Banias, who formerly must have dealt almost entirely in grain, as coined money had not come into
^
;

general use.

At
Ganesh,

the Diwali festival the Banias worship Ganpati or


in

15. Diwaii
festival.

conjunction with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Lakshmi is considered to be the deified cow, and, as such,
tiller

the other main source of wealth, both as mother of the bull, the
of the
soil,

and the giver of milk from which ghl


1

RdjasthiDi,

i.

p.

491.

126
(clarified

BANIA
butter)
is

PART
is

made

this

another staple of the


is

Bania's trade, as well as a luxurious food, of which he


especially
fond.

At Diwali

all

Banias

make up

their

accounts for the year, and obtain the signatures of clients They open fresh account-books, which to their balances.

they first worship and adorn with an image of Ganesh, and perhaps an invocation to the god on the front page. silver rupee is also worshipped as an emblem of Lakshmi, but in some cases an English sovereign, as a more precious coin, has been substituted, and this is placed on the seat The Banias and of the goddess and reverence paid to it. Hindus generally think it requisite to gamble at Diwali in all order to bring good luck during the coming year

classes indulge in a little speculation at this season.

In the

the

Holi,
it

calling

beat

Marwari. it with shoes, and have various jests and sports.


are divided into

month of Phagun (February), about the time of Marwaris make an image of mud naked, Nathu Ram, who was supposed to be a great They mock at this and throw mud at it, and
the

The

men and women


dirty water

two

parties,

and throw

and red powder over each other, and the women After two or three of cloth and beat the men. The days, they break up the image and throw it away. Banias, both Jain and Hindu, like to begin the day by This is congoing and looking at the god in his temple. sidered an auspicious omen in the same manner as it is commonly held to be a good omen to see some particular

make whips

or class of person the first thing in the morning. Others begin the day by worshipping the sacred Udsi or

person
basil.

The Banias
liquor.

arc very strict about food.


all

The majority

of them abstain from

kinds of flesh food and alcoholic


are reported
to eat the flesh of

The Kasarwanis
do
so,

clean animals, and perhaps others of the

lower subcastes

may

but the Banias are probably stricter than any other caste in their adherence to a vegetable diet. Many of them eschew also onions and garlic as impure
also

food.

Banias take the lead


contains,

in

the

objection

to

foreign

sugar on account of the stories told of the impure ingredients

which

it

and many of them,

until

recently, at

any

Bemrose. Colic, Derby.

MUD

IMAGES. MADE BY WORSHIPPERS AT THE HOLI FESTIVAL. AND AFTERWARDS DESTROYED.

11

SOCIAL CUSTOMS: RULES

ABOUT FOOD

127

rate, still

adhered to Indian sugar. Drugs arc not forbidden, Tobacco is but they are not usually addicted to them. forbidden to the Jains, but both they and the Hindus smoke,

tobacco. The Bania poor is very abstemious, and it is said that on a day when he has made no money he goes supperless to But when he has accumulated wealth, he develops bed. a fondness for ghl or preserved butter, which often causes him to become portly. Otherwise his food remains simple, and as a rule he confined himself until recently to two daily meals, at midday and in the evening but Banias, like most other classes who can afford it, have now begun to drink tea in the morning. In dress the Bania is also simple, adhering to the orthodox Hindu garb of a long white coat and a loin-cloth. He has not yet adopted the cotton trousers copied from the English fashion. Some Banias in their shops wear only a cloth over their shoulders and another round their waist. The kardora or silver waistbelt is a favourite Bania ornament, and though plainly dressed in ordinary life, rich Marwaris will on special festival occasions wear costly jewels. On his head the Marwari wears a small tightly folded turban, often coloured crimson, pink or yellow a green turban is a sign of mourning and also black, though the latter is seldom seen. The Banias object to taking the life of any animal. They will not castrate cattle even through their servants, but sell the young bulls and buy oxen. In Saugor, a Bania is put out of caste if he keeps buffaloes. It is supposed that good Hindus should not keep buffaloes nor use them for carting or ploughing, because the buffalo is impure, and is the animal on which Yama, the god of death, rides. Thus in his social observances generally the Bania is one of the

and

their

women sometimes chew

while he

is

high.

and this is a reason why his social status is Sometimes he is even held superior to the Rajput, as the local Rajputs are often of impure descent and lax in their observance of religious and social restrictions. Though he soon learns the vernacular language of the country where he settles, the Marwari usually retains his own native dialect in his account-books, and this makes it more difficult for
strictest castes,

his

customers to understand them.

128

BANIA
The Bania has
boyhood he

PART

early

is

From a very distinctive caste character. trained to the keeping of accounts and

to the view that

it is his business in Hfe to make money, and that no transaction should be considered successful or As an apprentice, creditable which does not show a profit. he goes through a severe training in mental arithmetic, so as to enable him to make the most intricate calculations in With this object a boy commits to memory a his head. number of very elaborate tables. For whole numbers he learns by heart the units from one to ten multiplied as high as forty times, and the numbers from eleven to twenty multiplied to twenty times. There are also fractional tables, giving the results of multiplying \, \, |, ij, i|, 2\, and 3^ interest-tables showing into units from one to one hundred sum from one to one thousand any on due interest the quarter of a month at and for a month, rupees for one all the squares of numbers from of tables twelve per cent rules set of technical for finding a one to one hundred, and whole.^ The selfthe price of a part from the price of the denial and tenacity which enable the Bania without capital
; ;

to lay the foundations of a business are also remarkable.

new locality, a Marwari Bania takes some shopkeeper, and by dint of the strictest Then the new economy puts together a little money. trader establishes himself in some village and begins to

On

first

settling in a

service with

make

interest,

advances to the cultivators on high rates of He opens though occasionally on bad security. a shop and retails grain, pulses, condiments, spices, sugar From grain he gradually passes to selling cloth and flour. and lending money, and being keen and exacting, and having to deal with ignorant and illiterate clients, he this he invests in purchasing villages, acquires wealth and after a time blossoms out into a big Seth or banker.
grain
;

The liania can also start a The way in which he does


to a
until
village,

retail
it

business without capital.


to

is
it

buy a
steps

rupee's

worth

of stock in a town, and take

out early in the morning


the

where he
it.
1

he has sold
his
1

Up
le

washes

face.

of the temple he neither eats nor comes back in the evening after
sits

on

till

then

Bombay

Gazetteer,

Hindus of

Gttjariit, p. 80.

II

DISLIKE OF THE CULTIVATORS TOWARDS IIIM

129

having eaten two or three pice worth of grain, and buys a


fresh stocic, whicli he takes out to another village
in

the

morning.
or three gets

Thus he turns over his capital with a profit two times a week according to the saying, " If a Bania

a rupee he will have an income of eight rupees a month," or as another proverb pithily sums up the immigrant Marwfiri's career, He comes with a lota ^ and goes back with The Bania never writes off debts, even though his a lakh.' debtor may be a pauper, but goes on entering them up year by year in his account-books and taking the debtor's acknowledgment. For he says, Ptirus Pdnisl or man is like the philosopher's stone, and his fortune may change any day. The cultivators rarely get fair treatment from the Banias, as the odds are too much against them. They must have o
'

'

19. Dis''^^.o*^

^^e

-I

cultivators

money

to

sow

their

land,

and
is

live

while the

crops

are towards
'"^'

growing, and the majority

who have no

capital are at the

moneylender's mercy.

He

of a different caste, and often

of a different country, and

has no fellow-feeling towards

them, and therefore considers the transaction merely from the business point of view of getting as much profit as possible. The debtors are illiterate, often not even understanding the meaning of figures, or the result of paying compound interest at twenty-five or fifty per cent they can
;

neither keep accounts themselves nor check their creditor's.

Hence they

are entirely in his hands, and in the end their

and they decline from landlord to tenant, or from tenant to labourer. They have found vent for their feelings in some of the bitterest sayings ever current A man who has a Bania for a friend has no need of an enemy.' Borrow from a Bania and you are as good as ruined.' The rogue cheats strangers and the Bania cheats his friends.' Kick a Bania even if he is " His heart, we are told, is no bigger than a coriander dead.' seed he goes in Hke a needle and comes out like a sword as a neighbour he is as bad as a boil in the armpit. If a Bania is on the other side of a river you should leave your bundle on this side for fear he should steal it. If a Bania is drowning you should not give him your he is hand sure to have some pecuniary motive for drifting down-stream.
villages or land, if saleable, pass to him,
:

'

'

'

The common

brass drinking-vessel,

VOL.

II

130

BANIA

PART

20. His
virtues.

Bania will start an auction in a desert. If a Bania's son tumbles down he is sure to pick up something. He uses light weights and swears that the scales tip up of themselves he keeps his accounts in a character that no one but God can read if you borrow from him your debt mounts up like a refuse-heap or gallops like a horse if he talks to a customer he debits the conversation in his accounts and when his own credit is shaky he writes up his transactions on ^ the wall so that they can easily be rubbed out." Nevertheless there is a good deal to be said on the other side, and the Bania's faults are probably to a large extent produced by his environment, like other people's. One of the Bania's virtues is that he will lend on security which neither the Government nor the banks would look at, or on none at all. Then he will always wait a long time for his money, especially if the interest is paid. No doubt this is no loss to him, as he keeps his money out at good interest but it is a great convenience to a client that his debt can be postponed in a bad year, and that he can pay as much as he likes in a good one. The village moneylender is in;
;
;

dispensable to

boys

in

that

its economy when the money burns a hole in

tenants are like schooltheir pocket


;

and

Sir

Denzil

Ibbetson

states

that

it

is
is

surprising

how much
with the

reasonableness and honesty there


court of justice.^
"

in his dealings

people, so long as he can keep his transactions out of a


Similarly, Sir Reginald
is

Craddock writes
is

The

village

Bania

a much-abused individual, but he

as

a rule a quiet, peaceable man, a necessary factor in the village

economy. He is generally most forbearing with his clients and customers, and is not the person most responsible for the indebtedness of the ryot. It is the casual moneylender with little or no capital who lives by his wits, or the large firms with shops and agents scattered over the face of the These latter encountry who work the serious mischief. courage the people to take loans and discourage repayment until the debt has increased by accumulation of interest to a sum from which the borrower cannot easily free himself" ^
1

Sir II. II. "RisXty^s Peoples of India,

p.

291.
^

p.

127, and
2

Appendix
Census

I. p.

8.

Nagptu- Setllement Report (1900),

Punjab

Report

(1881),

para. 54.

II

MONEYLENDER CHANGED EOR


The
progress of administration,
;

TlfE

WORSE
with
it

131

bringing

easy

21.

The

and safe transit all over the country the institution of a ' complete system of civil justice and the stringent enforcement of contracts through the courts the introduction of ^ cash coinage as the basis of all transactions and the grant of proprietary and transferable rights in land, appear to have at the same time enhanced the Bania's prosperity and increased the harshness and rapacity of his dealings. When the moneylender lived in the village he had an interest in
; '
_

'""'"^y"

lender

changed
^'^ ''^'^

worse.

who constituted his clientele and was also amenable to public opinion, even though not of his own caste. For it would clearly be an impossibly unpleasant position for him to meet no one but bitter enemies whenever he set foot outside his house, and to go to bed in nightly fear of being dacoited and murdered by a combination of his next-door neighbours. He therefore probably adopted the motto of live and let live, and conducted his transactions on a basis of custom, like the other traders and artisans who lived among the village community. But with the rise of the large banking - houses whose dealings are conducted through agents over considerable tracts of country, public opinion can no longer act. The agent looks mainly to his principal, and the latter has no interest in or regard for the
the solvency of the tenants
cultivators of distant villages.

and

He

He cares only for his profit, conducted with a single view to that end. himself has no public opinion to face, as he lives in a
his business
is

town among a community of his caste-fellows, and here absolutely no discredit is attached to grinding the faces of the poor, but on the contrary the honour and consideration accruing to him are in direct proportion to his wealth. The agent may have some compunction, but his first aim is to please his principal, and as he is often a sojourner liable to early transfer he cares little what may be said or thought about him locally. Again the introduction of the English law of contract and transfer of property, and the increase in the habit of litigation have greatly altered the character of the moneyThe debtor signs a bond lending business for the worse. sometimes not even knowing the conditions, more often having heard them but without any clear idea of their effect

22.

The

11

enforcement of
contracts,

BANIA
or of the consequences to himself, and as readily allows When it comes into court the witnesses, be registered.
it

to

who

are the moneylender's creatures, easily prove that it was a genuine and bona fide transaction, and the debtor is too ignorant and stupid to be able to show that he did not In understand the bargain or that it was unconscionable. power to go behind little or no a court has any case the any actual evidence of properly executed contract without fraud, and has no option but to decree it in terms of the This evil is likely to be remedied very shortly, as deed. the Government of India have announced a proposal to introduce the recent English Act and allow the courts the discretion to go behind contracts, and to refuse to decree This urgently exorbitant interest or other hard bargains. needed reform will, it may be hoped, greatly improve the character of the civil administration by encouraging the courts to realise that it is their business to do justice between litigants, and not merely to administer the letter of the law and at the same time it should have the result, as in England,
;

of quickening the public conscience and that of the

lenders themselves, which has indeed already been to

moneysome

extent awakened by other Government measures, including


the example set by the

Government

itself as

a creditor.
its

Again the

free

circulation

of metal

currency and

adoption as a medium for all transactions has hitherto been Interest on money was to the disadvantage of the debtors.

probably little in vogue among pastoral peoples, and was looked upon with disfavour, being prohibited by both the The reason was perhaps Mosaic and Muhammadan codes. community there pastoral existed no means of a that in which on loan by interest could be paid, a making a profit result usury was of that the debtor ultimately and hence the and the enslavement of became enslaved to his creditor
;

freemen on any considerable scale was against the public With the introduction of agriculture a system of interest.
loans on interest became a necessary and useful part of the

sow and support himself and his family until the crop ripened, out of which the loan, principal and interest, could If, as seems likely, this was the first occasion be repaid.
land

public economy, as a cultivator could borrow grain to

II

CASH COINAGE AND THK RATE OF INTEREST


it

133

system of loan-giving on a large would follow that the rate of interest would be based largely on the return yielded by the earth to the seed. Support is afforded to this conjecture by the fact that in
for the introduction of the
scale,

the case of grain loans in the Central Provinces the interest

on loans of grain of the crops which yield a comparatively


small return, such as wheat,
juari
is

twenty-five to

fifty

per cent,

while in the case of those which yield a large return, such as

These high and kodon, it is one hundred per cent. rates of interest were not of much importance so long as the transaction was in grain. The grain was much less valuable at harvest than at seed time, and in addition the lender had the expense of storing and protecting his stock of grain through the year. It is probable that a rate of twenty-five per cent on grain loans does not yield more than a reasonable profit to the lender. But when in recent times cash came to be substituted for grain it would appear that there was The borrower no proportionate reduction in the interest. would lose by having to sell his grain for the payment of his debt at the most unfavourable rate after harvest, and since the transaction was by a regular deed the lender no longer took any share of the risk of a bad harvest, as it is The rates probable that he was formerly accustomed to do.
of interest for cash loans afforded a disproportionate profit
to the lender,

who was

put to no substantial expense in

keeping money as he had formerly been in the case of grain. It is thus probable that rates for cash loans were for a considerable period unduly severe in proportion to the risk, and involved unmerited loss to the borrower. This is now being remedied by competition, by Government loans given on a
large scale in time of scarcity,

and by the introduction of

probably contributed to expedite the transfer of land from the cultivating to the
co-operative credit.
it

But

has

moneylending

classes.

Lastly the grant of proprietary and transferable right to 24. Proland has afforded a new incentive and reward to the success- ^"^ ^^^^^ ful moneylender. Prior to this measure it is probable that ferabie

no considerable

transfers of land occurred for ordinary debt.


for

|,^'^d.

The

non-payment of revenue, or simply through the greed of some Government


village

headman might be ousted

134
official

BANIA
under native
rule,

PART
villages

and of course the

were

continually pillaged and plundered by their


ally

own and

hostile

armies such as the Pindaris, while the population was periodic-

decimated by famine.

But apart from

their losses

by

famine, war and the badness of the central government,


right to their land,
suit of

it is

probable that the cultivators were held to have a hereditary

and were not liable to ejectment on the any private person. It is doubtful whether they had any conception of ownership of the land, and it seems likely that they may have thought of it as a god or the property of the god but the cultivating castes perhaps had a hereditary right to cultivate it, just as the Chamar had a
;

prescriptive right to the hides of the village cattle, the Kalar


to the mahua-flowers for

making

his liquor, the

Kumhar
grown

to
in

clay for his pots, and the Teli to press the oil-seeds
his village.

The

inferior

castes were not allowed

to hold

and it was probably never imagined that the village moneylender should by means of a piece of stamped paper be able to oust the cultivators indebted to him and take their
land,

land himself.

With the grant of proprietary


in

right to land

England, and the application of the English law of contract and transfer of property, a new and easy road to wealth was opened to the moneylender, of which he was not slow to take advantage. The Banias have thus ousted numbers of improvident proprietors of the cultivating castes, and many of them have become large landlords. A considerable degree of protection has now been afforded to landowners and cultivators, and the process has been checked, but that it should have proceeded so far is regrettable and the operation of the law has been responsible for a large
such as existed
;

amount of unintentional

injustice to the

cultivating castes

and especially to proprietors of aboriginal descent, who on account of their extreme ignorance and improvidence most
readily
fall

a prey to the moneylender.

As landlords the Banias were not at first a success. They did not care to spend money in improving their
property, and ground their tenants to the utmost.
^
:

Sir R.

" Great Craddock remarks of them or small they are absolutely unfitted by their natural instincts to be landlords.
^

Nagpur

Settlement Report (1900), para. 54.

II

COMMERCIAL //ONE STY


in

135

Shrewdest of traders, most business-like

the matter of

bargains, they are unable to take a broad view of the duties

of landlord or to see that rack-renting will not pay

in

the

long run." Still, under the influence of education, and the growth of
stand well with Governand to obtain recognition in the shape of some honour, many of the Marwari proprietors are developing into But from the cultivator's just and progressive landlords. point of view, residence on their estates, which are managed by agents in charge of a number of villages for an absent owner, cannot compare with the system of the small cultivating proprietor resident among tenants of his own caste, and bound to them by ties of sympathy and caste feeling, which produces, as described by Sir R. Craddock, the ideal village. As a trader the Bania formerly had a high standard of commercial probity. Even though he might show little kindliness or honesty in dealing with the poorer class of borrowers, he was respected and absolutely reliable in regard to money. It was not unusual for people to place their money in a rich Bania's hands without interest, even paying him a small sum for safe-keeping. Bankruptcy was considered disgraceful, and was visited with social penalties little

moral

feeling, as well as the desire to

ment

officers

26.

Com-

ho^^esty

less severe

than those enforced for breaches of caste

rules.

There was a firm belief that a merchant's condition in the next world depended on the discharge of all claims against him. And the duty of paying ancestral debts was evaded
only
in the case of helpless or

hopeless poverty.

Of

late,

waning power of caste and religious feeling in the matter, and partly to the knowledge of the bankruptcy laws, the standard of commercial honour has greatly fallen. Since the case of bankruptcy is governed and arranged for by law, the trader thinks that so long as he can keep within the law he has done nothing wrong. A banker, when heavily involved, seldom scruples to become a bankrupt and to keep back money enough to enable him to start
partly
to the
afresh, even if he does nothing worse. This, however, is probably a transitory phase, and the same thing has happened in England and America at one stage of commercial development. In time it may be expected that the loss of the old

owing

136

BANIA

PART

religious and caste feeling will be made good by a new standard of commercial honour enforced by public opinion among merchants generally. The Banias are very good to
their

own

caste,

and when a man

is

ruined will have a

general subscription and provide funds to enable him to start

Beggars are very rare in the caste. Rich Marwaris are extremely generous in their subscriptions to objects of public utility, but it is said that the small Bania is not very charitably inclined, though he doles out handfuls of grain to beggars with fair liberality. But he has a system by which he exacts from those who deal with him a slight percentage on the price received by them for religious purposes. This is called Deodan or a gift to God, and is supposed to go into some public fund for the construction or maintenance of a temple or similar object. In the absence of proper supervision or audit it is to be feared that the Bania
afresh in a small way.
inclines to

make

use of

it

for his private charity, thus saving

himself expense on that score.


vestigated

by Mr.

Napier,

The system has been inCommissioner of Jubbulpore,


of these

with a view to the application improvements.

funds to public

Bania, Agarwala,
the Banias.

Ag-arwal.

This

is

generally

conthe

sidered to be the highest and most important subdivision of

They numbered about 25,000 persons


191
1,

in

Central Provinces in

bulpore and Nagpur.

The

being principally found in Jubname is probably derived from

Agroha, a small town in the Hissar District of the Punjab, whichwasformerlyof some commercial importance. Buchanan records that when any firm failed in the city each of the others contributed a brick and five rupees, which formed a stock sufficient for the merchant to recommence trade with advantage. The Agarwalas trace their descent from a Raja Agar Sen, whose seventeen sons married the seventeen daughters of Basuki, the king of the Nagas or snakes. Elliot considers that the snakes were really the Scythian or barbarian immigrants, the Yuch-chi or Kushans, from whom several of the Rajput clans as the Tak, Haihayas and others, who also have the legend of snake ancestry, were probably derived. Elliot also remarks that Raja Agar Sen, being a

II

aganivAla

137

must have been a Kshatriya, and thus according to the legend the Agarwalas would have Rajput ancestry on both
king,
sides.

Their appearance, Mr. Crooke

states, indicates

good

race and breeding, and would lend colour to the theory of a

Raja Agar Sen is said to have ruled over Rajput origin. both Agra and Agroha, and it seems possible that the name of the Agarwalas may also be connected with Agra, which The country is a much more important place than Agroha.
round Agra and Delhi
tutelary goddess of
is

their

home, and the shrine of the

Provinces

is

some of the Agarwalas in the Central The memory of the Naga princess near Delhi.
is still,

who was
is

their ancestor

Sir

H. Risley
say,
*

states, held

in

honour by the Agarwalas, and they


of the race of the snake.'
will
kill
^

Our mother's house No Agarwala, whether Hindu

or

molest a snake, and the Vaishnava Jain, Agarwalas of Delhi paint pictures of snakes on either side of
or

the outside doors of their houses, and

make

offerings of fruit

and flowers before them.


In the Central Provinces, like other Bania subcastes, they are divided into the Bisa and Dasa or twenty and ten sub-

The Bisa rank which marry among themselves. higher than the Dasa, the latter being considered to have some flaw in their pedigree, such as descent from a remarried widow. The Dasas are sometimes said to be the descendants of the maidservants who accompanied the seventeen Naga or snake princesses on their marriages to the sons A third division has now come into of Raja Agar Sen. existence in the Central Provinces, known as the Pacha
divisions,

or fives; these are apparently of

still

than the Dasas.


if

The

divisions tend to be

more doubtful origin endogamous, but

man of the Bisa or Dasa cannot obtain a wife from own group he will sometimes marry in a lower group. The Agarwalas are divided into seventeen and a half gotras or exogamous sections, which are supposed to be The descended from the seventeen sons of Raja Agar Sen.
a
his

accounted for by a legend, but it probably something to do with illegitimate descent. Some of the gotras, as given by Mr. Crooke, are as a matter of fact named after Brahmanical saints like those of the
extra
\\2Xi

gotra

is

has

in reality also

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal, art. Agarwala.

138

BANIA
;

PART

Brahmans instances of these are Garga, Gautama, Kaushika, Kasyapa and Vasishtha the others appear to be territorial or titular names. The prohibitions on marriage between
;

relations are far-reaching

among

the Agarwalas.

The

de-

tailed rules are given in the article


is

on Bania, and the effect that persons descended from a common ancestor cannot
five

intermarry for
cession
is

generations.

When

the wedding

pro-

about to start the Kumhar brings his donkey and the bridegroom has to touch it with his foot, or, according to one version, ride upon it. The origin of this custom is obscure, but the people now say that it is meant to emphasise the fact that the bridegroom is going to do a foolish thing. The remarriage of widows is prohibited, and divorce is not
recognised.

Most of the Agarwalas

are Vaishnava

gion, but a few are Jains.

Intermarriage between

by relimembers

of the two religions


wife

is permitted in some localities, and the adopts that of her husband. The Jain Agarwalas observe the Hindu festivals and employ Brahmans for their

ceremonies.
It is said that

In

Nimar

the caste have

some curious
;

taboos.

a married

woman may

not eat wheat until a

and if she has no child she may not eat wheat all her life. If a son is born to her she must go to Mahaur, a village near Delhi where the tutelary goddess of the caste has her shrine. This goddess is called Mohna Devi, and she is the deified spirit of a woman who burnt herself with her husband. After this the woman may eat wheat but if a second son is born she must stop eating wheat until she has been to the shrine again. But if she has a daughter she may at once and always eat wheat without visiting the shrine. These rules, as well as the veneration of a snake, from which they believe themselves to be descended on the mother's side, may perhaps, as suggested by Sir H. Risley, be a relic of the system of matriarchal descent. It is said that when Raja Agar Sen or
child has been born to her, but only juari
;

his sons

married the
should

Naga

princesses, he obtained permission

as a special

favour from

the

goddess

children
mother's.^

bear

their

father's

Lakshmi name and


Pir,

that

the
their

not

In

Nimar some Agarwalas worship Goba


'

the god of

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal,

art.

Agarwala.

II

ACRAIIARI

139

the sweepers.

He
are
this

is

represented by a pole

some 30

feet

on which sweepers carry


long
the

hung a

cloth

and

cocoanuts.

The

through the city almost daily during

month of Shrawan (July), and people offer cocoanuts, tying them on to the pole. Some Agarwalas offer vermilion
to the

god

in

token of worship, and a

{q\v

invite

it

to the

compounds of their houses and keep it there all night for the same purpose. When a feast is given in the caste the Agarwalas do not take their own brass vessels according to the usual practice, but the host gives them little
from which are afterwards broken, The Agarwalas will take food. food cooked without water {j)akki) from Oswal, Maheshri and Khandelwal Banias. The Agarwalas of the Central Provinces hold some substantial estates in Chhattlsgarh these were obtained at the first settlements during 1860-70,
earthen pots to drink
leaf-plates
for

and

their

village

when considerable depression existed, and many of the headmen were unwilling to accept the revenue assessed on their villages. The more enterprising Banias
and took them, and have profited enormously Akbar's great minister, Todar Mai, who first introduced an assessment of the land-revenue based on the measurement and survey of the land, is said to have been an Agarwala.
in

stepped

owing

to the increase in the value of land.

Bania, Ag^rahari.^^
persons in

This subcaste numbered nearly 2000

191

1,

resident principally in Jubbulpore, Raipur

and Bilaspur, and some of the Feudatory States. Mr. Crooke states that they claim partly a Vaishya and partly a Brahmanical descent, and wear the sacred thread. Like that of the Agarwala Banias their name has been connected with the cities of Agra and Agroha. There is no doubt that they are closely connected with the Agarwalas, and Mr. Nesfield suggests that the two groups must have been sections of one and the same caste which quarrelled on some trifling matter connected with cooking or eating, and have remained separate ever since. The Agrahari Banias are Hindus, and some of them belong to
'

in his Tribes

The information on and Castes.

this

subcaste

is

taken from Mr. Crooke's article on

it

140

BANIA

PART

the

provisions,

Nanakpanthi sect. They are principally dealers in and they have acquired some discredit as comwith
their

pared
shop.

kinsfolk

the

Agarvvalas,

through
to

not
the

secluding

their

women and

allowing them

attend

woods which are used in religious ceremonies, such as aloe -wood and sandalwood, besides a number of medicines and simples. The richer members of the caste are bankers, dealers in grain and pawnbrokers.
also retail various sweet-smelling

They

Bania, AjudhiaMsi, Audhia. A subcaste of Bania, whose name signifies a resident of Ajodhia, the old name of Oudh. Outsiders often shorten the name to Audhia, but, as will be seen, the name Audhia is regularly applied to
a
criminal class, who may have been derived from the Ajudhiabasi Banias, but are now quite distinct from them. The Ajudhiabasis numbered nearly 2000 persons in 191 i, belonging chiefly to the Jubbulpore, Narsinghpur and Hoshangabad Districts. This total includes any persons who may have returned themselves as Audhia. The Ajudhiabasis are nearly all Hindus with a small Jain
minority.
are

Though Oudh was


fairly
it

their

original

home they
locality that

now

numerous

in

Cawnpore and Bundelkhand


this
last

as well, and

may have
Central

been from
Provinces.

Here they form a separate endogamous group and do not marry with their caste -fellows in northern India. They have exogamous sections, and marriage is prohibited within the section and
they entered
the
also

between

first

cousins.

They permit

the remarriage
to

of widows, but are said not to recognise divorce, and

expel from the caste a woman guilty of adultery. It may be doubted, however, whether this is correct. Brahmans
serve as their priests, and they invest boys with the sacred

thread either at marriage or at a special ceremony


as

known
;

Gurmukh.

the case of

The dead arc either burial men are laid on

buried

or

burnt

in

the face

and women

on the back, the body being first rubbed with salt, clarified butter, turmeric and milk. A little earth from the grave is carried away and thrown into a sacred river, and when the dead arc burnt the ashes are similarly disposed of.

AJUDIIIABASl

141

principal deity is the goddess Devi, and at the Dasahra festival they offer a goat to her, the flesh of which is distributed among members of the caste. The Audhias are a well-known criminal tribe, whose headquarters is in the Fatehpur District. They say that they are Banias, and use the name Ajudhiabasi in speaking of themselves, and from their customs and criminal methods it seems not unlikely that they may originally have been an offshoot from the Ajudhiabasi Banias. They are now, however, perfectly distinct from this group, and any confusion between them would be very unjust to the latter. In northern India it is said that the Audhias deal largely in counterfeit coin and false jewellery, and never commit crimes of violence ^ but in Bombay they have taken to housebreaking, though they usually select an empty house.^ From their homes in the United Provinces they wander over Central India, the Central Provinces, Bengal and Bombay they are said to avoid the Punjab and Sind owing to difficulties of working, and they have made it a caste offence to commit any crime in the Ganges-Jumna Doab, probably because this is their home. It is said also that if any one of them is imprisoned he is put out of caste. They wander about disguised as

Their

religious
their

mendicants, Brahmans
tied

or

Bairagis.

They

carry

on their back with a cloth, and a large bag slung over the shoulders which contains food, cookingvessels and other articles. Sometimes they pretend to be Banias and hawk about sweets and groceries, or one of the gang opens a shop, which serves as a rendezvous

bedding

and centre for collecting information.^ In the Districts where they reside they are perfectly well-behaved. They are well-to-do and to all appearance respectable in their
habits.

Their

women

are well-dressed with plenty of orna-

ments on
of
all

their
;

persons.

They have no apparent means


cultivate
is

support
that

they neither
off after

appears on the surface

and boys go
1

trade and most of the men the rains and return at the end of
;

land nor

that

art.
^

Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes, Audhia.

Bombaji Presidency, art. Audhia. 3 Kennedy, ibidem.

Kennedy's Criminal Classes of the

142

BANIA

PART

If asked how they support themselves Their marriage rules are those of they reply by begging. They are divided into two classes, high -caste Hindus. Unch or high and Nich or low, the former being of pure

the cold weather.

and the latter the descendants of kept women. These are practically endogamous. A man may not have more than two wives. If a girl is detected in immorality before marriage, she is permanently excommunicated, and a married woman can be turned out by her husband
blood,

on proof of adultery.

bridegroom-price

is

usually paid,

the bridegroom and giving the him the money in secret. The dead are burnt, and Brahmans If a man has died through an accident are duly fed. or from cholera, smallpox, poison or leprosy, the corpse, if available, is at once consigned to the Ganges or other river, and during the course of the next twelve months a Mahabrahman is paid to make an image of the deceased As in gram-flour, which is cremated with the usual rites. in the case of the Ajudhiabasi Banias, the tribal deity of the Audhias is the goddess Devi.^
father of the bride visiting

Bania, Asathi.
the

This
the

subcaste

numbers about

2500

persons in the Central Provinces, belonging principally to

Damoh and

Jubbulpore

original

home was

Districts. They say that their Tikamgarh State in Bundelkhand.

They do not rank very

high,

the descendants of an Ahir


told of the Asathis that they

and are sometimes said who became a Bania.


first

to be

The
It is

great bulk are Hindus and a small minority Jains.

ance presumably with a former and burn the bodies and there
;

bury their dead, in accordand then exhume is a saying


practice,

Ardha jale, ardha gave


Ji7ika 7iain Asathi parc^
or,
'

He who

is

an Asathi
if
it

is

half buried
really

and half

burnt.*

But this abandoned.

practice,

ever

existed, has

now been

Bania, Charnag-ri, Channag-ri, Samaiya.


nagris are a small Jain subcaste which
1

The

Char-

numbered about 2500


art.

Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes,

Audhia.

ASATHl
in

143
in

persons
Svvami,

191
is

i,

residing princiimlly

the

Damoh and
Taran
aL^^o.

Chhlndwara

Districts.

They

are the followers of one

who

said to have

lived about five centuries

He preached against the worship of the images of the Jain Tirthakars, and said that this should be abandoned and only
the sacred books be revered.
sect
is

The

chief sacred place of the


;

Malhargarh
is

in

prophet

situated

here the tomb of their Gwalior State and there is also a large temple in

In the month of which the Jain scriptures are enshrined. Phagun (February) a fair is held here, and Charnagris dance lamps in their hands. in the temples, holding lighted

temples

Nowadays the Charnagris also visit the ordinary They when their own are not available.
all

Jain
are

from Parwar Banias, and formerly would sometimes give their daughters to Parwars in marriage, Like other but this practice is said to have stopped. Bania subcastes, they are divided into Bisa and Dasa, or
practically

derived

twenty and ten sections, the Dasa being of irregular descent. Intermarriage between the two sections occasionally occurs, and the Dasa will take food from the Bisa section, but the latter do not reciprocate except at caste feasts.

The origin of this Bania, Dhusar, Bhargfava Dhusar. They are usually classed as a group is much disputed. They take subcaste of Bania, but claim to be Brahmans. their name from a hill called Dhusi or Dhosi, near Narnaul on the border of Alwar State. The title Bhargava signifies a descendant of Bhrigu, one of the famous eponymous Rishis or Brahmanical saints, to whom Manu confided his institutes, If this was their original name, it calling him his son. would show that they were Brahmans, but its adoption Their claim to be appears to be somewhat recent. Brahmans is, however, admitted by many members of that caste, and it is stated that they perform the functions of Brahmans in their original home in Rajputana. Mr. Burn wrote of them ^ "In his book on castes published in 1872 Mr. Sherring does not refer to any claim to kinship wnth Brahmans, though in his description of Dhusar Banias he Both appears to include the people under consideration.
:

United Provinces Census Report (1901),

p.

220.

144

BANIA
of

PART

the Dhusar Bhargavas and Dhusar Banias assert that


the capable Vazir

Himu,

belonged to their community, and such a claim by the former is if anything in favour of the view that they are not Brahmans,
Suri,

Muhammad Shah

since

Himu

is

variously described by

Muhammadan

writers

as a corn-chandler, a
in his

raised
is

weighman and a Bania. Colonel Dow history of Hindustan calls him a shopkeeper who was by Sher Shah to be Superintendent of Markets. It

for a claim

not improbable that Himu's success laid the foundation to a higher position, but the matter does not
proof,

have therefore accepted the caste - committees and considered them as a caste allied to Brahmans." In the Punjab the Dhusars appear to be in some places Brahmans and in others Banias. " They take their food before

admit of absolute
decision

and

of

the

majority

of

the

morning prayer, contrary

to

the

Hindu

rule,

but of late

years they have begun to conform to the orthodox practice.

marries with his caste-fellows and the Bania with Banias, avoiding always the same family {gotrd) From the above or one having the same family deity." ^ accounts it would appear that the Dhusars may have originally been a class of Brahmans who took to trade, like the Palliwal Brahmans of Marv/ar, and have lost their position as Brahmans and become amalgamated with the Bania caste or they may have been Banias, who acted as priests to others of the community, and hence claimed to be The caste is important and influential, and is Brahmans.
;

The Brahman Dhusar

now making every effort to recover or substantiate Brahman status. One writer states that they combine
office aptitude

its

the

and hard-heartedness to a debtor characteristic The Dhusars are rigid in the maintenance of the purity of their order and in the performance of Hindu ceremonies and duties, and neither eat meat nor drink any In Delhi they were distinguished for their kind of spirit. talent as singers, and cultivated a peculiar strain or measure, In the Central Provinces in which they were unsurpassed.^ the Dhusars are a flourishing body, their leaders being Rai Bahadur Bihari Lai Khizanchi of Jubbulpore and Rai Sahib
of the Bania.

ii.

p.

Atkinson, Himalayan Gazetteer, 473, quoted in Mr. Crooke's

article
^

Dhusar.
i.

Sherring, FIi7idH Castes,

p.

293.

II

DOSAR
Sundar
Lfil

145

Seth
spirit

of

Betul.

They

have

founded

the

Bhfirgava bank of Jubbulporc, and shown considerable public


;

to the latter gentleman's generosity a

large part of

the success of the recent debt-conciliation proceedings in the

Betul District must be attributed.

numbers about Dusra or second, and the Dosar or Dusra are a section of the Ummar Banias, who were so called because they permit widows to make a second Their home is the Ganges -Jumna Doab and marriage. Oudh, and in the United Provinces they are classed as an inferior subcaste of the Ummars. Here they say that the
Bania, Dosar,
persons.

Dusra.^

This
name

subcaste

600

The

original

is

Ummars are their elder brothers. In the Central Provinces they are said to be forming three local endogamous groups according as their homes were in the Doab, Oudh or the
Allahabad country
;

among
the

themselves.

and members of each of these marry The Dosars say that they all belong to
or clan, but for the purpose of marriage

Kashyap " gotra

they have
of

territorial or titular

exogamous

sections

instances

of these are Gangapari, a native of


;

Oudh

Sagarah, a resident

Saugor Makraha, a seller of makka or maize, and Tamakhuha, a tobacco -seller. They pay a bridegroomprice, the full recognised amount of which is Rs. 211, either in cash or brass cooking-vessels. Those who cannot afford this sum give half of it or Rs. 105, and the poorest classes pay anything they can afford. The Dosars are Vaishnava Hindus and employ Sanadhya Brahmans as their priests. These Brahmans will take food without water from their clients, but they are an inferior class and are looked down upon by other Brahmans. The caste are mainly shopkeepers, and they deal in gold and silver ornaments, as well
as grain, tobacco

and

all

kinds of groceries.

Bania, Gahoi.^

This
1,

Hindu subcaste numbered nearly


name

7000
^

persons in 191

belonging principally to the Saugor,


but the
is

furnished
pur.
-

This account is based on a paper by Mr. Jeorakhan Lai,


Bilas-

perhaps derived from

Kachhap, a

tortoise.

Deputy Inspector of Schools,

Kashyap was a Brahman

saint,

^ This article is mainly based on a paper by ]\Ir. Pancham Lai, NaibTahsildar Sihora.

VOL.

II

146

BANIA

PART

Their home is the Jubbulpore and Narsinghpur Districts. Bundelkhand country, which these Districts adjoin, and they say that their original headquarters was at Kharagpur in Bundelkhand, whence they have spread over the surrounding
country.
that once

They

tell

a curious story of their origin to the effect

upon a time there was a certain schoolmaster, one One Biya Pande Brahman, who could foretell the future. day he was in his school with his boys when he foresaw that He immediately there was about to be an earthquake. warned his boys to get out of the building, and himself led Only twelve of the boys had followed, and the the way.
others were
still

hesitating,

when

the earthquake began, the

and they were all buried in the ruins. The schoolmaster formed the boys who had escaped into one caste, calling them Gahoi, which is supposed to mean that which is left or the residue and he determined that he and At his descendants would be the priests of the new caste. the weddings of the Gahois an image of the schoolmaster is painted on the house wall, and the bridegroom worships it with The story indicates clearly offerings of butter and flowers. mixed descent from several castes. that the Gahois are of The subcaste has twelve gotras or sections, and seventytwo al or dnken, which are subsections of the gotras. Several of the al names appear to be of a titular or totemistic character, as Mor peacock, Sohania beautiful, Nagaria a drummer, Paharia a hillman, Matele the name of a village headman in Bundelkhand, Piparvania from the plpal tree, The rule of exogamy is said to be that a Dadaria a singer. man must not marry in his own gotra nor in the al of his mother or either grandmother.^ Their weddings are held only at the bride's house, no ceremonies being performed at the bridegroom's at the ceremony the bridegroom stands in the centre of the shed by the marriage-post and the bride At their weddings the walks seven times round him. Gahois still use the old rupees of the Nagpur kingdom for presents and payments to menials, and they hoard them
school
fell

in,

up,

when they can


is

get them, for this special purpose.


is

The

rupee

sacred with the Bania, and this

the preservation of old accessories for


1

an instance of religious ceremonies


Gahoi.

Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes,

art.

II

COLAPURAB

147

when they have been superseded in ordinary use. Polygamy is permitted, but is rare. The Gahois employ Bhargava Brahmans for their priests, and these are presumably the descendants of the schoolmaster who founded the caste. At the thirteenth-day feast after a death the Brahmans must be fed first before the members of the caste. On this
occasion
flour,

thirteen

brass

or earthen

vessels

arc

filled

with

and a piece of money, and presented to thirteen Brahmans, while the family priest receives a bed and piece of cloth. The priests are said to be greedy, and to raise
quarrels over the value of the presents given to them.
their

At

the Diwali festival the Gahois worship the implements of


trade, pen and ink, and their account-books. The Gahois are Vaishnava Hindus, and abstain from all flesh and alcoholic liquor. They trade in grain and groceries, and are bankers and moneylenders. They are considered to be cunning in business, and a proverb says that a Gahoi will deceive even his own father.

This Jain subcaste numabout 6000 persons in the Central Provinces, and belongs mainly to the Saugor, Damoh and Narsinghpur
Bania, Golapiirab, Golahre.
bers
Districts.
Its distribution is
it is

nearly the

same

as that of the

Gahois, and

probably also a Bundelkhand group.


all

The

Golapurabs are practically

Digambari Jains with a small


they intermarry with
;

Hindu

minority.

In

some

localities

Parwar Banias who are also Digambari Jains and they will take food cooked without water from the Nema subcaste who are Hindus. According to one story the Golapurabs were the offspring of a Purabia, that is probably a Bais Rajput, by a kept woman of the Ahlr caste. This fits in very well with the name, as Golak means a bastard, and the termination purab would be from Purabia but it is probably the name which has given rise to the story, or at any rate to the supposed descent from a Purabia. In the United Provinces a small subcaste of Bania called Golahre exists, belonging to
;

the Jhansi District, that

is

the country of the Golapurabs,


is

and Jain by
the

religion.

There
and

same

as the Golapurabs,
'

no doubt that this group is and Mr. Crooke derives ^ the

Tribes

Castes, art. Golahre.

148

BANIA
But
it is

PART

name from gola^


that there
is

a grain-mart, which seems more probable than

the derivation suggested above.

also a caste of cultivators called

an interesting fact Golapurab in

It is the United Provinces, found only in the Agra District. suggested that these people are the illegitimate offspring of

to be closely which include those of several Rajput clans and also some titular terms of a low-caste type, Mr. Crooke thinks their Brahmanical origin It is noticeable that these Golapurabs though improbable.

Sanadhya Brahmans, with whom they appear

connected.

From

their sept-names, however,

a cultivating caste have, like the Banias, a subcaste called

they also Dasa, comprising persons of irregular descent of widows, and abstain from all flesh prohibit the remarriage
;

Such customs are peculiar in a and from onions and garlic. It seems cultivating caste, and resemble those of Banias. possible that a detailed investigation might give ground for supposing that both the Golahre and Golapurab subcastes of Banias in the United and Central Provinces respectively
connected with this cultivating caste of Golapurabs. latter might have abandoned the Jain religion on taking to cultivation, as a Jain cannot well drive the or the plough, which involves destruction of animal life Bania section might have adopted Jainism in order to obtain a better social position and differentiate themselves Unfortunately no detailed information from the cultivators.
are

The

about the Golapurabs of the Central Provinces is available, from which the probability or otherwise of this hypothesis could be tested.
This Hindu subcaste numbers about Bania, Kasarwani.^ in the Central Provinces, who belong mainly

6500 persons

to Saugor, Jubbulpore

and the three Chhattlsgarh

Districts.

from kdnsa, bell-metal, as The these Banias retail brass and bell - metal vessels. Kasarwanis may therefore not improbably be an occupational group formed from persons who engaged in the trade, and in that case they may be wholly or partly derived from the Kasars and Tameras, the castes which work in brass, copper
is
'

The name

probably derived

The above

notice

is

partly based on a paper by Mr. Sant Prasad, school-

master, Nandgaon.

II

KASAUNDIIAN

149

The Kasarvvanis are numerous in Allahabad and bell-metal. and Mirzapur, and they may have come to Chhattlsgarh from Mirzapur, attracted by the bell-metal industries in Ratanpur and Drug. In Saugor and also in the United Provinces they say that they came from Kara Manikpur If the selling of metal vessels was several generations ago. their original calling, many, or the majority of them, have now abandoned it, and deal in grain and groceries, and lend money like other Banias. The Kasarwanis do not observe the same standard of strictness as the good Bania subcastes
in

their social

rules.

They

eat the flesh of goats, sheep,

though they abstain from liquor. They permit the remarriage of widows and divorce and women who have been divorced can marry again in the caste by the same rite as widows. They also allow the exchange of girls in marriage between two families. They do not as a rule wear the sacred thread. Their priests are Sarwaria Brahmans, and these Brahmans and a few Bania subcastes, such as the Agarwalas, Umres and Gahois, can take food cooked without water from them, but other Brahmans and Rajputs will not take any kind of food. Matches are arranged in the presence of the head of the caste panchdyat, who is known as Chaudhri. The parents on each side give their consent, and in pledge of it six pice (farthings) are taken from both of them, mixed together and given to their family priests and barbers, four pice to the priests and two to the barbers. The following is a local derivation of the name the word kasar means more or the increase, and bJiata means less and Hamdra kya kasar hhata ? means How does my account stand ? Hence Kasarbani is one who keeps
birds

and

fish,

'

'

accounts, that

is

a Bania.

Bania, Kasaundhan.

This

subcaste numbers about


is

5500

persons in the Central Provinces and

returned principally

from the Bilaspur, Raipur and Jubbulpore Districts. The name is derived ^ by Mr. Crooke from kdnsa, bell-metal, and dkana, wealth, and it would appear that the Kasaundhans like the Kasarwanis are an occupational group, made up of shopkeepers who dealt in metal vessels. Like them also the
^

Tribes

and

Castes, art.

Kasaundhan.

150

BANIA

PART

Kasaundhans may have originally been constituted from the metal-working castes, and indeed they may be only a local branch of the Kasarwanis, though no information is available In the United Provinces which would decide this point. both the Kasarwanis and Kasaundhans are divided into the Purbia or eastern and Pachhaiyan or western subcastes. Dharam Das, the great disciple of Kablr, who founded the Kablrpanthi sect in the Central Provinces, was a Kasaundhan Bania, and the Kablrpanthi Mahants or high-priests of Kawardha are of this caste. It is probable that a good many of the Kasaundhan Banias in Bilaspur and Raipur The remainder are ordinary belong to the Kablrpanthi sect.
Hindus.
Bania, Khandelwal.
in the
all

Thissubcaste numbers about


;

500

persons in the Central Provinces

they are most numerous


Districts, but are scattered

Hoshangabad and Amraoti

over the Province.

They take

their

name from

the town

of Khandela in the Jaipur State of Rajputana, which was formerly the capital of the Shekhawati federation. There is
also a
"

Khandelwal subcaste of the Brahman


are not inferior to

caste,

found

in
^
:

the United Provinces.^

Mr. Bhattacharya says of them

The Khandelwal Banias

of the caste either in wealth or refinement.

any other division There are both

Vaishnavites and Jains among them, and the Vaishnavite Khandelwals wear the sacred thread. The millionaire Seths
of Mathura are Khandelwal Banias."

Bania, Lad.
in the
all

This

subcaste numbers about

Central Provinces, being settled in Nimar,

5000 persons Nagpur and


Gujarat,

the Berar Districts.

The Lad Banias came from

and Lad is derived from Lat-desh, the old name for Gujarat. Like other Banias they are divided into the Bisa and Dasa groups or twenties and tens, the Dasa being of irregular descent. Their family priests are Khedavval Brahmans, and Lad their caste deity is Ashapuri of Ashnai, near Petlad.

women,
in dress.

especially those of Baroda, are noted for their taste

The Lad Banias


^

are

Hindus of the Vallabhacharya


art.

Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes,


2

Khandelwal.

Hindu

Castes

and

Sects, p. 209.

II

LINGAyAT
who worship

151

sect,

Krishna, and were formerly addicted to

sexual indulgence/

Bania, Ling"ayat. The Lingayat Banias number nearly 8000 persons in the Central Provinces, being numerous in Wardha, Nagpur and all the Berar Districts. A brief account
of the Lingayat sect has been given in a separate
article.

The Lingayat Banias form a


or with
sect.

separate

endogamous group,

and they do not eat or intermarry

either with other Banias

members of other
retain

castes belonging to the Lingayat

But they
five

the

name and occupation

of Banias.

They have
salis

Pancham, Dikshawant, Chilliwant, Takalkar and Kanade. The Pancham or Panchamsubdivisions,

are the descendants of the original

Brahman

converts

Lingayat sect. They are the main body of the community and are initiated by what is known as the eightfold sacrament or esJita-varna. The Dikshawant, from diksha
to

the

or

initiation,

are a subdivision
disciples

of the

Panchamsalis,
Dikshit

who

apparently

initiate

like

the

The Takalkar
called Takali,

are

said to take their

Brahmans. name from a forest


to

where

their first ancestress bore a child

the god Siva.

The Kanade
is

are from Canara.

The meansaid that a

ing of the term Chilliwant

not

member
if
it

of this subcaste will throw

known away

it

is

his food or

is

seen by any one

shave the whole head. subcastes. The Lingayat Banias also have exogamous groups, the names of which are mainly titular, of a low-caste type. Instances of them are Kaode, from kawa a crow, Teli an oil-seller, Thubri a dwarf, Ubadkar an incendiary, Gudkari a sugar-seller and Dhamankar from Dhamangaon. They say that the maths or exogamous groups are no longer
regarded, and
girl is

who is not a Lingayat, and The above form endogamous

water they

that

marriage

is

now
It

prohibited
is is

between
if

persons having the same surname.

stated that

not married before adolescence she


caste,

finally expelled

from the

but this rule has probably become obsolete.

The
girl's

proposal for marriage comes from either the boy's or


party,

and sometimes the bridegroom receives a small


1

sum

for his travelling expenses, while at other times a brideSee


article Bairagi for

some notice of the

sect.

152

BANIA
is

PART
is

price

paid.

At

the wedding, rice coloured red

put in

the hands of the bridegroom and juari coloured yellow in

The bridegroom places the rice on the A dish full head and she lays the juari at his feet. of water with a golden ring in it is put between them, and they lay their hands on the ring together under the water and walk five times round a decorative little marriage-shed A feast is given, and the bridal erected inside the real one. couple sit on a little dais and eat out of the same dish.
those of the bride.
bride's

The remarriage of widows is permitted, but the widow may man belonging to the section either of her Divorce is recognised. The first husband or of her father.
not marry a

Lingayats bury the dead in a sitting posture with the lingam emblem of Siva, which has never left the dead man during Sometimes a platform his lifetime, clasped in his right hand. They do is made over the grave with an image of Siva. Their principal not shave the head in token of mourning. festival is Shivratri or Siva's night, when they offer the Lingayat leaves of the bel tree and ashes to the god. phallic lingam or sign of Siva, must never be without the little case of which is carried slung round the neck in a If he loses it, he must not eat, silver, copper or brass. The drink nor smoke until he finds it or obtains another. Lingayats do not employ Brahmans for any purpose, but are
or

own priests, the Jangams,^ who are recruited both by descent and by initiation from members of the Pancham group. The Lingayat Banias are practically all immigrants from the Telugu country they have Telugu names and speak this language in their homes. They deal
served by their
;

in grain, cloth, groceries

and

spices.

important subcaste of Banias in the Central Provinces in 191 1, of whom 8000 belonged to the Berar Districts, and the remainder principally to Hoshangabad, Nimar, Wardha and The name is said to be derived from Maheshwar, Nagpur. an ancient town on the Nerbudda, near Indore, and one of But some of them say the earliest Rajput settlements.
Bania, Maheshri.

This

numbered about 14,000 persons

that their original


1

home

is

in

Bikanir,

and

tell

a story to

See separate

article

on Jangam.

II

MAIIESHRI

153

the effect that their ancestor was a Raja


into stone with his seventy-two followers

whose devotions they had interrupted in when their wives came to commit sati by the stone figures the god Siva intervened and brought them to life again. He told them to give up the profession of arms and take to trade. So the seventy-two followers were the ancestors gotras or sections of the Maheshris, and the seventy-two of became their tribal Blidt or genealogist, and they the Raja Maheshri or Maheswari, from Mahesh, a name of were called Siva. In Gujarat the term Maheshri or Meshri appears to
be used for all Banias who are not Jains, including the other important Hindu subcastes.^ This is somewhat peculiar,

who was turned by some ascetics the forest. But

and perhaps tends to show that several of the local subcastes are of recent formation. But though they profess to be

named Hindu
It is

after Siva, the

Maheshris, like practically

all

other

Banias, are Vaishnava


basil.

by

sect,

and wear the

kiniti or

necklace of beads of

small minority are Jains.


clan,

to be noticed that both the place of their origin, an

early Rajput settlement of the

Yadava

and

their

own

legend tend to show that they were derived from the Rajput caste for as their ancestors were attendants on a Raja and followed the profession of arms, which they were told to
;

The abandon, they could be none other than Rajpiits. Maheshris also have the Rajput custom of sending a cocoanut as a symbol of a proposal of marriage.
In

Nimar

the

Maheshri Banias say they belong to the Dhakar subcaste, a name which usually means illegitimate, though they themselves explain that it is derived from a place called Dhakargarh, from which they migrated. As already stated they are divided into seventy-two exogamous clans, the names of which appear to be titular or territorial. It is said that at their weddings when the bridegroom gets to the door of the marriage-shed, the bride's mother ties a scarf round his neck and takes hold of his nose and drags him into the shed. Sometimes they make the bridegroom kneel down and pay reverence to a shoe as a joke. They do not observe the custom of the pangat or formal festal assembly, which is usual among Hindu castes according to this, none
; ^

Bombay

Gazetteer,

Hindus of Gujarat,

p.

70.

154

BANIA

'

PART

can begin to eat until all the guests have assembled, when Among the Maheshris the guests they all sit down at once. sit down as they come in, and are served and take their food and go. They only have the pajtgat feast on very rare The Maheshris are one of the richest, most occasions.
enterprising
intelligent,

and
of

influential

classes

of Banias.
cleanly

They
habits

are

and The great bankers, Sir Kasturchand courteous manners. Daga of Kamptee, of the firm of Bansi Lai Ablrchand, and Rai Bahadur Seth Jiwan Das and Diwan Bahadur Seth
high-bred
appearance,

Ballabh Das, of Jubbulpore, belong to this subcaste.


Bania,

Nema.

This

subcaste

numbers

nearly

persons, the bulk of

whom

reside in

the Saugor,

4000 Damoh,

Narsinghpur and Seoni Districts. The Nemas are most largely returned from Central India, and are probably a Bundelkhand group they will eat food cooked without water with GolaThey are purab Banias, who are also found in Bundelkhand. origin The mainly Hindus, with a small minority of Jains. comes from it the suggestion that of the name is obscure Nemas Nimar appears to be untenable, as there are very few They say that when Parasurama was in that District. slaying the Kshatriyas fourteen young Rajput princes, who at the time were studying religion with their family priests, were saved by the latter on renouncing their Kshatriya status These fourteen and declaring themselves to be Vaishyas.
;

princes were

the

ancestors

of the

fourteen gotras of the

Nema

subcaste, but the gotras actually bear the

the fourteen Rishis or saints

who saved

their lives.

names of These

sections appear to be of the usual

Brahmanical type, but

marriage

is

regulated by another set of fifty-two subsections,

Like with names which are apparently titular or territorial. other Bania groups the Nemas are divided into Bisa and Dasa subdivisions or twenties and tens, the Bisa being of

There is also a pure and the Dasa of irregular descent. third group of Pacha or fives, who appear to be the offspring
After some generations, when the details of kept women. of their ancestry are forgotten, the Pachas probably obtain

promotion into the Dasa group. The Bisa and Dasa groups take food together, but do not intermarry. The Nemas wear

II

oswal
The Nemas
or a

155

the sacred thread and apparently prohibit the remarriage of

widows.
grazes
else
"
?

are considered to be very keen busi-

ness men, and a saying about

them
is

is,

"

Where
for

sheep

Nema

trades,

what

there

left

anybody

division

perhaps the most important subthe Agarwala. The Oswals numbered nearly 10,000 persons in the Central Provinces in 191 I, being found in considerable numbers in all the Berar Districts, and also in Nimar, Wardha and Raipur. The name is derived from the town of Osia or Osnagar in
Bania, Oswal.
is

This

of the Banias

after

Marwar. According to one legend of their origin the Raja of Osnagar had no son, and obtained one through the promise of a Jain ascetic. The people then drove the ascetic from the town, fearing that the Raja would become a Jain but Osadev, the guardian goddess of the place, told the ascetic, Sri Ratan Suri, to convert the Raja by a miracle. So she took a small hank {pilni) of cotton and passed it along the back of the saint, when it immediately became a snake and bit Jaichand, the son of the Raja, in the toe, while he was asleep beside his wife. Every means was tried to As his corpse was about to be save his life, but he died. burnt, the ascetic sent one of his disciples and stopped the cremation. Then the Raja came with the body of his son and stood with hands clasped before the saint. He ordered that it was to be taken back to the place where the prince had been bitten, and that the princess was to lie down beside At midnight the snake returned and licked it as before. the bite, when the prince was restored to life. Then the Raja, with all his Court and people, became a Jain. He and his family founded the gotra or section now known as Sri Srimal or most noble his servants formed that known as Srimal or excellent, while the other Rajputs of the town became ordinary Oswals. When the Brahmans of the place
;
;

heard of these conversions they asked the saint how they were to live, as all their clients had become Jains. The saint directed that they should continue to be the family priests of the Oswals and be known as Bhojak or eaters.' Thus the Oswals, though Jains, continue to employ Marwari
'

156

BANIA
as their family priests.
^

PART

Brahmans
story
is

that the king of Srimali

allowed no one

Another version of the who was

In consenot a millionaire to live within his city walls. quence of this a large number of persons left Srimal, and,

Mandovad, called it Osa them were Srimali Banias and also


settling in

or the frontier.
Bhatti,

Among

Chauhan, Gahlot, Gaur, Yadava, and several other clans of Rajputs, and these were the people who were subsequently converted by the Jain ascetic, Sri Ratan Suri, and formed into the single caste Finally, Colonel Tod states that the Oswals of Oswal.^ are all of pure Rajput descent, of no single tribe, but chiefly Panwars, Solankis and Bhattis.^ From these legends and the
Rajputana, it may safely Banias are of Rajput origin. that the Oswal concluded be Oswals are Jain by religion, of the majority The large Hindus. Intermarriage between Vaishnava but a few are the sections is permitted. Like the Hindu and Jain
fact that their headquarters are in

Agarwalas, the Oswals are divided into Bisa, Dasa and Pacha sections or twenties, tens and fives, according to the The Pacha subcaste still permit purity of their lineage.
the

remarriage of widows.

The

three groups In

take food

together but do not intermarry.

Bombay, Dasa Oswals

intermarry with the


Banias,'*

Dasa groups of Srimali and Parwar and Oswals generally can marry with other good

The Bania subcastes so long as both parties are Jains. Oswals are divided into eighty-four goiras or exogamous sections for purposes of marriage, a list of which is given by Most of these cannot be recognised, but a few Mr. Crooke.^ of them seem to be titular, as Lorha a caste which grows hemp, Nunia a salt-refiner, Seth a banker, Daftari an officeboy, Vaid a physician, Bhandari a cook, and Kukara a dog. These may indicate a certain amount of admixture of foreign As stated from Benares, the elements in the caste. exogamous rule is that a man cannot marry in his own section, and he cannot marry a girl whose father's or
mother's section
is

the

same
Marwar,
of

as that of either his father or


first
ii.

mother.
^

This would bar the marriage of


in
^
^

cousins.
p.

town near Jhalor


Gazetteer,

Rajasihdti,

210, footnote,

now
2

called Bhinmal.

Bombay

Hindtis

Gujarat, p. 97.

Hindus of Gujarat, loc. cit.^ and Bombay Gazetteer, xvi. 45. ^ Tribes and Castes, art. Oswal.

II

PARIVAR
Though
Jains
the
Osvvfils

157

walking round the sacred fire god Ganpati.^ They rites, including the worship of the The also revere other Hindu deities and the sun and moon. dead are burnt, but they do not observe any impurity after a On the day after the death the death nor clean the house. mourning family, both men and women, visit Parasnath's temple, and lay one seer (2 lbs.) of Indian millet before the They do not gather the god, bow to him and go home. Their ashes of the dead nor keep the yearly death-day. only observance is that on some day between the twelfth day after a death and the end of a year, the caste-people are are treated to a dinner of sweetmeats and the dead The Oswals will take food cooked with then forgotten.' ^ water {katchi) only from Brahmans, and that cooked without In the water {pakki) from Agarwala and Maheshri Banias. Central Provinces the principal deity of the Oswals is the Jain Tirthakar Parasnath, and they spend large sums in the The Oswals are the most erection of splendid temples. prominent trading caste in Rajputana and they have also frequently held high offices, such as Diwan or minister, and
'

perform their weddings by and observe certain Hindu

paymaster

in

Rajput

States.^

This Jain subcaste numbered nearly Bania, Parwar.'* They belong almost entirely to 29,000 persons in 191 1. the Jubbulpore and Nerbudda Divisions, and the great bulk are found in the Saugor, Damoh and Jubbulpore Districts. The origin of the Parwars and of their name is not known, but there is some reason to suppose that they are from Rajputana. Their women wear on the head the bij\ a Rajputana ornament, and use the chdru, a deep brass plate Their songs are for drinking, which also belongs there. It seems likely that said to be in the Rajasthani dialect. the Parwars may be identical with the Porawal subcaste found in other Provinces, which, judging from the name, may In the northern Districts the Parwars belong to Rajputana.
1

Bombay

Gazetteer, vol. xvii. p. 51.

2 3

Ibidem. Bhattacharya,

Hindu

Castes

and

^ This article on papers is based by Mr. Pancham Lai, Naib-Tahslldar Sihora, and Munshi Kanhya Lai, of

Sects, p. 207.

the Gazetteer

office.

158

BANIA
in

speak Bundeli, but


be Marwari.

the south their language

is

said

to

Among
a

the Parwars
sectarian

the

separate

Jain
in

group.

Samaiya or Channagri form They do not worship


temples, and

the images of the Jain Tirthakars, but enshrine the sacred

books of the Jains

their

worship these.

The Parwars
nagris,

will

take daughters in marriage from the Chan-

and sometimes give their daughters in consideration Among the Parwars themselves there is a social division between the Ath Sake and the former will not permit the marriage of the Chao Sake persons related more nearly than eight degrees, while the The Ath Sake have the latter permit it after four degrees. higher position, and if one of them marries a Chao Sake he Besides this the Parwars have is degraded to that group. an inferior division called Benaikia, which consists of the offspring of irregular unions and of widows who have remarried. Persons who have committed a caste offence and cannot pay the fine imposed on them for it also go into this
of a substantial bride-price.
;

subcaste.

The Benaikias

themselves are distributed into

four groups of varying degrees of respectability, and families

who

live correctly and marry as well as they can tend to rise from one to the other until after several generations they may again be recognised as Parwars proper. The Parwars have twelve gotras or main sections, and each gotra has, or is supposed to have, twelve inuls or

subsections.

grandmothers nor in practically bars marriage within or greatgrandmothers. This But a man's sister and seven degrees of relationship. daughter may be married in the same family, and even to two brothers, and a man can marry two sisters. As a rule no bride-price is paid, but occasionally an old man desiring a wife will give something substantial There are two forms of marriage, to her father in secret. in the former, women do called Thinga and Dajanha not accompany the wedding procession, and they have a separate marriage-shed at the bridegroom's house for their
his
;

Parwar must not marry the mul of his mother, or any of

in

his

own gotra

own

celebrations
'

while in the

latter,

they accompany
on Vidur.

it

See also notice of Benaikias in article

II

J'ARlVyjR
erect such a shed at

159
in

and

the

house

the

bridegroom's

town where they have their lodging. Before the wedding, the bridegroom, mounted on a horse, and the bride, carried in a litter, proceed together round the marriage-shed. The bridegroom then stands by the sacred post in the centre and the bride walks seven times round him. In the evening there was a custom of dressing the principal male relatives of the bridegroom in women's clothes and making them dance, but this is now being discarded. On the fifth day is held a rite called Palkachar. A new cot is provided by the bride's father, and on it is spread a red cloth. The couple are seated on this with their hands entwined, and their relations come and make them presents. If the bridegroom catches hold of the dress
village

or

of his mother- or father-in-law, they are expected to

make

him a handsome

present.

In other respects the wedding


ritual.

follows the ordinary

Hindu

Widow-marriage and

divorce are forbidden

among

the Farwars proper, and those

who

practise

them go

into the lower Benaikia group.


^

The Parwars are practically all Jains of the Digambari sect. They build costly and beautiful temples for their Tirthakars, especially for their favourite Parasnath. They have also many Hindu practices. They observe the Diwali,
Rakshabandhan and Holi
Diwali the
last

Reii-

5'":
observ^'^^^^

festivals they say that at the Tirthakar Mahavira attained beatitude and
;

the gods rained

down

jewels

the

little

lamps now lighted

at Diwali are held to be symbolic of these jewels.


tie

They
to

the threads round the wrist on


evil
spirits.

Rakshabandhan
Devi, the

keep

off

They worship

Sitala

Hindu

goddess

of smallpox, and employ Brahmans to choose names for their children and fix the dates of their wedding and other ceremonies, though not at the ceremonies
themselves.

The
is

caste

burn the dead, with the exception of the


are buried.

6.

Dis-

bodies of young children, which

The

corpse

p^^!

be taken to the cremation ground, but often laid on a bier in the ordinary manner. The sitting posture is that in which all the Tirthakars attained paradise, and their images always represitting
in

sometimes placed

a car to

sent

them

in this

posture.

The

corpse

is

naked save

for

i6o

BANIA
piece of cloth

round the waist, but it is covered a sheet. The Jains do not shave their hair in token of mourning, nor do they offer sacrificial cakes to
a

new

with

When the body is burnt they bathe in the nearest water and go home. Neither the bearers nor the mourners are held to be impure. Next day the mourning family, both
the dead.

men and women,

visit

Parasnath's temple, lay two pounds

of Indian millet before the god and go home.^


Central Provinces they whitewash their houses,
clothes washed, throw
feast to the caste.

But
get

in the

their

away

their earthen pots

and give a

The Parwars abstain from eating any kind of flesh and from drinking liquor. They have a panchdyat and impose penalties for offences against caste rules like the Hindus.

Among

the offences

are

the

killing

of any living thing,

unchastity or adultery, theft or other bad conduct, taking

cooked food or water from a caste from which the Parwars do not take them, and violation of any rule of their religion. To get vermin in a wound, or to be beaten by a low-caste man or with a shoe, incidents which entail serious penalties
the Hindus, are not offences with the Parwars. an offender is put out of caste the ordinary deprivation is that he is not allowed to enter a Jain temple, and in serious cases he may also not eat nor drink with the caste. The Parwars are generally engaged in the trade in grain,

among

When

ghi^

and other
villages.

staples.

Several of them are well-to-do and

own

Bania, Srimali.

This

subcaste takes

its

town of Srimal, which is now Bhinmal in Marwar. numbered 600 persons in the Central Provinces in 191
of

name from the They


1,

most

belonged to the Hoshangabad District. More than two-thirds were Hindus and the remainder Jains. Colonel

whom

Tod
"

writes of Bhinmal and an adjoining town, Sanchor These towns are on the high road to Cutch and Gujarat, which has given them from the most remote times a commercial celebrity. Bhinmal is said to contain about 1500 houses and Sanchor half that number. Very wealthy mahdjans or merchants used to reside here, but insecurity
:

Bombay

Gazetteer, vol. xvii. p. 8i.

II

UAfRE

i6i

and without has much injured these cities." the Srimah's appear to have gone to Gujarat, where they are found in considerable numbers. Their legend of origin is that tlie goddess Lakshmi created from a flower-garland 90,000 families to act as servants to the 90,000 Srimali Brahmans, and these were the ancestors of Both the Jain and Hindu sections the Srimali Banias.^
both within

From Bhinmal

of the Srimali Banias employ Srimali

Brahmans

as priests.

Like other classes of Banias, the Srimali are divided into two sections, the Bisa and Dasa, or twenty and ten, of which the Bisa are considered to be of pure and the Dasa of somewhat mixed descent. In Gujarat they also have a third territorial group, known as Ladva, from Lad, the old name
of Gujarat.
All three subdivisions take food together but

do not intermarry."
that
further
to

The two

highest sections of the Oswal


it

Banias are called Sri Srimal and Srimal, and


investigation

is

possible

might

show the Srimals and

Oswals

have been originally of one stock.

Bania, Umre.

This Hindu

subcaste belongs to

Damoh

and Jubbulpore. They are perhaps the same as the Ummar Banias of the United Provinces, who reside in the Meerut, Agra and Kumaon Divisions. The name Umre is found
as a subdivision of several castes in

the Central

Provinces,

as the Telis and others, and

probably derived from some town or tract of country in northern or central India, but Mr. Bhimbhai Kirparam no identification has been made. states that in Gujarat the Ummar Banias are also known
is

Bagar or wild country, comprised in Dongarpur and Pertabgarh States of Rajputana, where considerable numbers of them are still settled. Their headas Bagaria from the

the

In Damoh the is at Sagwara, near Dongarpur,^ Banias formerly cultivated the al plant,'* which yielded a well-known dye, and hence they lost caste, as in soaking the

quarters

Umre

roots of the plant to extract the

them

are necessarily destroyed.

dye the numerous insects in The Dosar subcaste ^ are

a branch of the Umre,


1

who

allow widow-remarriage.
of
^
*
-^

Bombay

Gazetteer,

Hindus

Ibidem,

p. 98.

Gujarat, p. 99. ^ Ibidem.

Merinda
See

citrifolia, see art. Alia.

article.

VOL.

II

BANJARA
LIST OF

PARAGRAPHS
12.

Historical notice of the caste. Batijdras derived frojn the Chdrans or Bhdts.

13.
1

4.
5
.

Siva Bhaia. Worship of cattle. Connection with the Sikhs.


Witchcraft.

Chdran
45-

Banjdras

oiiployed

I 1 1

with the Mughal armies. Internal structure.

6.
7.

Human sacrifice.
Admissio7i of outsiders : kid7iapped children and slaves.
Dress.

Minor

subcastes.
betrothal. 18.
1

6. 7. 8.

Marriage :

9-

lo.
1 1.

Marriage. Widow-remarriage. Birth ajtd death. Religion : Banjdri Devi.

9.

Social customs.

20.

The Ndik or headman. jdra dogs.


Crimi7ial
caste.

Banof
the

tendencies

Mithu

Bhiikia.
22.

TJieir virtues.

Banjara, Wanjari, Labhana, Mukeri/ The caste and drivers of pack- bullocks. In 191 i the Banjaras numbered about 56,000 persons in the Central Provinces and 80,000 in Berar, the caste being in greater strength here than in any part of India except Hyderabad, where their total is 174,000. Bombay comes next with a figure approaching that of the Central Provinces and Berar, and the caste belongs therefore rather to the Deccan than to
of
carriers

northern India.
but
^

The name
probable

has been variously explained,


is

the
This

most

derivation

from
;

the

Sanskrit

based principally on a Monograph on the Banjara Clan, by Mr. N. F. Cumberlege of the Berar Police, believed to have been first
article is

written in 1869 and reprinted in 1882 notes on the Banjaras written by Colonel Mackenzie and printed in the

Major Gunthorpe's Mrs. Horsburgh) papers by Mr. M. E. C7-iminal Tribes Khare, Extra-Assistant Commissioner, Clianda ; Mr. Narayan Rao, Tahr. Betul Mr. Mukund Rao, Manager, Pachmarhi Estate and information
; ; ;

Berar Census Report (1881) and the Pioneer newspaper (communicated by

on the caste collected Nimar.


162

in Yeotnial

and

rr.

II

DANJARAS nERIlKn hliOM


Sir

/'///:

CJlAKANS

163

banijya kanr, a merchant.

H. M. Elliot held that the name Banjfira was of great antiquity, quoting a passage from

the Dasa

Kumara

Charita of the eleventh or twelfth century.

But
the

it

was subsequently shown by Professor Cowcll that


l^anjara did not occur in the original text of this

name

Banjaras are supposed to be the people mentioned by Arrian in the fourth century B.C., as leading a wandering life, dwelling in tents and letting out for hire their beasts
work.^

of burden.'
that

But

this

passage merely proves the existence


Mr. Crooke states
'^

of carriers and not of the Banjara caste.

the
is

first

tory

in

mention of Banjaras in Muhammadan hisIt Sikandar's attack on Dholpur in A.D, 1504.''

seems improbable, therefore, that the Banjaras accompanied the different Muhammadan invaders of India, as might have been inferred from the fact that they came into The the Deccan in the train of the forces of Aurangzeb. caste has indeed two Muhammadan sections, the Turkia and Mukeri.^ But both of these have the same Rajput clan names as the Hindu branch of the caste, and it seems possible that they may have embraced Islam under the proselytising influence of Aurangzeb, or simply owing to their having been employed with the Muhammadan troops. The great bulk of the caste in southern India are Hindus, and there seems no reason for assuming that its origin was

Muhammadan. It may be suggested

that the Banjaras are derived from

2.

Ban-

the Charan or Bhat caste of Rajputana.

Mr. Cumberlege,
is

^f'^^j^.^^

whose MonogTaph on the caste


authorities, states that of the

in

Berar

one of the best

from the
o^^Bhats

four divisions existing there

the Charans are the most numerous and


interesting
class.*"

by
it

far the

most

In the article on Bhat

has been ex-

plained
'

how

the Charans or bards, owing


actions
for

to their readiness

art.
2

Mr. Crooke's Tribes a)id Castes, Banjara, para. i.

183) says that

Bombay Literary Society, \o\.\. "as carriers of grain


armies the Banjaras
(a.D. 1340) to
in

Berar

Census
2,

Report

(1881),

Muhammadan

p. 150.
2

have figured
quoting Dowson's
Fazalullah LutGazetteer of

history from the days

Ibidem, para.

Muhammad Tughlak
^

Elliot, V. 100.
*

those of Aurangzeb.''
Sir

Khan Bahadur

H. M.

Elliot's

Sttpplemeiital

fullah Farldi in the

Bombay

Glossary.

(Muhammadans of Gujarat, p. 86) quoting from General Briggs [Trans-

Monograph on

ike Batijdra Clan,

p.

8,

104

BANJARA

tart

to kill themselves rather than give

to their care,

up the property entrusted became the best safe-conduct for the passage

of goods in Rajputana.
to

The name Charan


in

is

generally held

bards the from court to court of They were first the different chiefs in quest of patronage. protected by their sacred character and afterwards by their custom of trdga or chdndi, that is, of killing themselves when attacked and threatening their assailants with the dreaded Mr. Bhimbhai fate of being haunted by their ghosts. Kirparam remarks " After Parasurama's dispersion of the Kshatris the Charans accompanied them in their southward In those troubled times the Charans took charge flight. of the supplies of the Kshatri forces and so fell to their ." present position of cattle-breeders and grain-carriers. Most of the Charans are graziers, cattle-sellers and packColonel Tod says ^ " The Charans and Bhats or carriers. bards and genealogists are the chief carriers of these regions (Marwar) their sacred character overawes the lawless Rajput chief, and even the savage Koli and Bhil and the plundering Sahrai of the desert dread the anathema of these singular races, who conduct the caravans through the wildest and In another passage Colonel Tod most desolate regions." " Murlah identifies the Charans and Banjaras ^ as follows is an excellent township inhabited by a community of Charans of the tribe Cucholia (Kacheli), who are Bunjarris The alliance (carriers) by profession, though poets by birth. curious one, and would appear incongruous were not is a It was the sanctity gain the object generally in both cases. of their office which converted our bardais (bards) into buujdrris, for their persons being sacred, the immunity extended likewise to their goods and saved them from all imposts so that in process of time they became the freetraders of Rajputana. I was highly gratified with the reception I received from the community, which collectively advanced to meet me at some distance from the town. The procession was headed by the village elders and all the fair Charanis, who, as they approached, gracefully waved their
'

mean

Wanderer,' and

their capacity of

Charans were accustomed to

travel

'

Hindus of Gujarat,

p.
3

214

e( seq.
ii.

Rajasthdn,

i.

602.

Ibidem,

570, 573.

II

nANJARAS DKRIVKD I'ROM


mc
!

TIfR C/IARANS

165

scarfs over

until
It

of Murlah

I was fairly made captive by the muses was a novel and interesting scene. The

manly persons of the Charans,


robe
witii the

clad in the flowing

white
side,
;

high loose-folded turban inclined on one

from which the Didla or chaplet was gracefully suspended and the uaiqucs or leaders, with their massive necklaces of gold, with the image of the pitriszvar {iiianes) depending therefrom, gave the whole an air of opulence and dignity. The females were uniformly attired in a skirt of dark-brown camlet, having a bodice of light-coloured stuff, with gold ornaments worked into their fine black hair and all had the
;

favourite

chilris

or

rings

of lidthiddnt

(elephant's

tooth)

covering the arm

from the wrist to the elbow, and even

A little later, referring to the same Charan above it." community. Colonel Tod writes " The id?tda or caravan, consisting of four thousand bullocks, has been kept up amidst all the evils which have beset this land through Mughal and Maratha tyranny. The utility of these caravans as general carriers to conflicting armies and as regular taxpaying subjects has proved their safeguard, and they were too strong to be pillaged by any petty marauder, as any one who has seen a Banjari encampment will be convinced. They encamp in a square, and their grain-bags piled over each other breast-high, with interstices left for their matchlocks, make no contemptible fortification. Even the ruthless Turk, Jamshid Khan, set up a protecting tablet in favour of the Charans of Murlah, recording their exemption from dlnd contributions, and that there should be no
:

all who should injure sun and moon are appealed to as witnesses of good faith, and sculptured on the stone. Even the forest Bhil and mountain Mair have set up their signs of immunity and protection to the chosen of Hinglaz (tutelary deity) and the figures of a cow and its kairi (calf) carved in rude relief speak the agreement that they should not be slain or stolen within the limits of Murlah."

increase in

duties,

with threats to
usual, the

the community.

As

Colonel

passage the community described by Charans, but he identified them with Banjaras, using the name alternatively. He mentions their
In
the

above

Tod were

66

BANJARA
Charans,

part

large herds of pack-bullocks, for the

management of which
well as bards,

the

who were
;

graziers

as

would

naturally be adapted
is

the

name

given to the camp, tdnda,


;

the women wore women wear.^ In commenting on the way in which the women threw their scarves over him, making him a prisoner. Colonel Tod remarks
that generally used by the Banjaras

ivory bangles, which the Banjara

"

This community had enjoyed for

five

hundred years the

privilege of

making prisoner any Rana of Mewar who may

pass through Murlah, and keeping him in bondage until he


gives

them a got or entertainment.

The

patriarch (of the

jeopardy as the Rana's representative, but not knowing how I might have relished the joke had it been carried to its conclusion, they let me escape." Mr. Ball notes a similar custom of the Banjara women far
village) told

me

that

was

in

away
day
the
I

in

the Bastar State of the Central Provinces


girls all hurried

"

"

To-

passed through another Banjara hamlet, from whence


out in pursuit, and a brazen-

women and

faced powerful-looking lass seized the bridle of

my

horse as

he was being led by the sais in the rear. The sais and chaprdsi were both Muhammadans, and the forward conduct of these females perplexed them not a little, and the former was fast losing his temper at being thus assaulted by a woman." Colonel Mackenzie in his account of the Banjara caste remarks ^ "It is certain that the Charans, whoever they were, first rose to the demand which the great armies of northern India, contending in exhausted countries far from their basis of supply, created, viz. the want of a fearless and reliable transport service. The start which the Charans then acquired they retain among Banjaras to this day, though in very much diminished splendour and position. As they themselves relate, they were originally five brethren, Rathor, Turi, Panwar, Chauhan and Jadon. But fortune particularly smiled on Bhika Rathor, as his four sons, Mersi, Multasi, Dheda and Khamdar, great names among the
:
.

' This custom does not necessarily indicate a special connection between the Banjaras and Charans, as it is

frequently wear the hair long,


the neck, which
is

down

to

another custom of

Kajputana.
^
''

common
but
it

to several castes in

Kajputana

indicates that the Banjaras

came
also

Jungle Life in India, p. 517. Berar Census Report (1881),

p.

from

Kajputana.

Banjara

men

152.

II

BANJARAS
rose

DJSRfVE/) I'ROM 77/K ClfARANS


eminence
as

167

Charans,

immediately to
the north.

commissariat

transporters in

And

not only under the Delhi

Emperors, but under the Satara, subsequently the Poona Raj, and the Subahship of the Nizam, did several of their descendants rise to consideration and power." It thus seems
a reasonable hy[)othesis that the nucleus of the Banjara caste

was constituted by the Charans or bards of Rajputana. Mr. Bhimbhai Kirparam ^ also identifies the Charans and Banjaras, but I have not been able to find the exact passage. The following' notice by Colonel Tone is of interest in this
'"'

connection
"

The

vast consumption

that attends a

Maratha army
supplies
;

necessarily superinduces

the idea of

great

yet,

notwithstanding
selves about

this,

the native powers never concern them-

providing for their forces, and have no idea

of a

grain

and

victualling

department,

which

forms so
or

great an object in a European campaign.


grain-sellers in an Indian

The Banias

army have always

their servants

ahead of the troops on the line of march, to purchase in whatever necessaries are to be disposed of. Articles of consumption are never wanting in a native camp, though they are generally twenty-five per cent dearer than in the town bazars but independent of this mode of supply the Vanjaris or itinerant grainmerchants furnish large quantities, which they bring on bullocks from an immense distance. These are a very peculiar race, and appear a marked and discriminated people from any other I have seen in this country. Formerly they were considered so sacred that they passed in safety in the midst of contending armies of late, however, this reverence for their character is much abated and they have been frequently plundered, particularly by
the circumjacent country
; ;

Tipu."

The
in

reference

to

the

sacred

character

attaching

to

the Banjaras a century ago appears to be strong evidence

favour of their derivation

from the Charans.


India

could

scarcely have been obtained

For it by any body of comwith


the

missariat

agents
'

coming

into

Muham-

Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of Gujarat. Letter on the Marathas (1798), p. 67, India Office Tracts.

168

BANJARA
The
set
fact

madans. was first

that

the example

of disregarding

it

by a

Muhammadan

prince points to the

same

conclusion.

Mr. Irvine notices the Banjaras with the Mughal armies


in

similar terms
in

^
:

"It

is

armies
paid

the field are fed, and they are never injured

by these people that the Indian by

either army.
for.

The grain is taken from them, but invariably They encamp for safety every evening in a
breastwork.

regular square formed of the bags of grain of which they

construct a

Guards with matchlocks and spears are placed at the corners, and I have seen them their dogs do duty as advanced posts. They do not move above with droves of 5000 bullocks. two miles an hour, as their cattle are allowed to graze as they proceed on the march." One may suppose that the Charans having acted as carriers for the Rajput chiefs and courts, both in time of peace and in their continuous intestinal feuds, were pressed into service when the Mughal armies entered Rajputana In and passed through it to Gujarat and the Deccan.
the centre, and the oxen are
fast

They and made

their

families outside.

are

in

adopting the profession of transport agents for the imperial troops they may have been amalgamated into a fresh caste with other Hindus and Muhammadans doing the same work, just as the camp language formed by the superposition of a Persian vocabulary on to a grammatical
basis of

Hindi became Urdu or Hindustani.


to

The
than
not,

readiness

of

the Charans

commit
to

suicide

rather

give

up

property
is

committed

their

charge

was

copied by the

Banjaras, and so far as I am no record of men of this caste taking their own lives, though they had little scruple with those of others. The Charan Banjaras, Mr. Cumberlege states," first came to the Deccan with Asaf Khan in the campaign which closed with the annexation by the Emperor Shah Jahan Their leaders or of Ahmadnagar and Berar about 1630. Naiks were Bhangi and Jhangi of the Rathor^ and
'

however, aware there

Army

of the

Indian
14,

A/itt^hals,

p.

192.
'^

Monograph, p. Census Report (1S81)

and

Jierar
151.

^ These are held to have been descendants of the Bhika Rathor referred to by Colonel Mackenzie above.

(Kilts), p.

II

C//ARAN

n.lA'J.lh'AS

U'l'I'If

MlUJllAI. ARMJI'.S

169

Bhagvvun Das of the Jadtin clan. Bhangi and Jhangi had It 180,000 pack-bullocks, and Bhagwan Das 52,000. was naturally an object with Asaf Khan to keep his commissariat well up with his force, and as Bhangi and Jhangi made difficulties about the supply of grass and water to their cattle, he gave them an order engraved on copper in letters of gold to the following effect
:

Ranjan kd pdtii ChJiappar kd ghds Din kc tin k/ifin miidf;

Aur jalidn AsafJdli


IVahdn

ke ghorc

Blian^^i J/uDigi kc bail,

which
water

my
huts

"If you can find no be rendered as follows may even take it from the pots of followers grass you may take from the roofs of their
:

may

elsewhere you
;

pardon you up to three murders a day, wherever I find my cavalry, Bhangi and This grant is still Jhangi's bullocks shall be with them." in the possession of Bhangi Naik's descendant who lives at Musi, near HingoH. He is recognised by the Hyderabad Court as the head Naik of the Banjara caste, and on his death his successor receives a khillat or dress-of-honour from
;

and

will

provided

that

His Highness the Nizam.

After Asaf Khan's campaign and

settlement in the Deccan, a quarrel broke out between the

Rathor clan, headed by Bhangi and Jhangi, and the Jadons under Bhagwan Das, owing to the fact that Asaf Khan had refused to give Bhagwan Das a grant like that quoted above. Both Bhangi and Bhagwan Das were slain in the feud and the Jadons captured the standard, consisting of eight thdns (lengths) of cloth, which was annually presented by the Nizam to Bhangi's descendants. When Mr. Cumberlege wrote (1869), this standard was in the possession of Hatti Naik, a descendant of Bhagwan D3.S, who had an estate Colonel near Muchli Bunder, in the Madras Presidency. ^ Rathor clan Mackenzie states that the leaders of the

became
but as

so

distinguished
of war
that

not only
the

in

their

particular line
their
dJial

men

Emperors recognised
were known as

carrying distinctive standards, which


1

See note

3, p.

16S.

I70

BANJARA
Rathors
themselves.
Jhangi's

part

by the

family

was

also

represented in

the

person

of

Ramu

Naik,

the patel

or

headman of the village of Yaoli in the Yeotmal District. In 179192 the Banjaras were employed to supply grain to the British army under the Marquis of Cornwallis during
the siege of Seringapatam/ and
in his

the

Duke

of Wellington

Indian campaigns regularly engaged them as part of commissariat staff of his army. On one occasion he the " The Banjaras look upon in the light said of them I of servants of the public, of whose grain I have a right
:

to

regulate

the sale, always


-

taking care

that they

have

a proportionate advantage."
in

Berar,

Mr. Cumberlege gives four main divisions of the caste the Charans, Mathurias, Labhanas and Dharis.

by far the most numerous and and included all the famous leaders of the The Charans are divided into caste mentioned above. the five clans, Rathor, Panwar, Chauhan, Puri and Jadon or Burthia, all of these being the names of leading Rajput and as the Charan bards themselves were probably clans
these the Charans are

Of

important,

Rajputs, the Banjaras,

who
;

are descended from them,


clan or sept
is

may

claim the same lineage.


a

Each
thus

divided into

number

of

subsepts
is

among
called
this

the

principal subsept

the

Bhurkia,
;

after

Rathors the the Bhika


into

Rathor

already mentioned

and

is

again split

four groups, Mersi, Multasi,


after his four sons.

As

Dheda and Khamdar, named rule, members of the same clan,

Panwar, Rathor and so on, may not intermarry, but Mr. Cumberlege states that a man belonging to the Banod or Bhurkia subsepts of the Rathors must not take a wife from his own subsept, but may marry any other Rathor girl. It seems probable that the same rule may hold with the other subsepts, as it is most unlikely that intermarriage should still be prohibited among so large a It may body as the Rathor Charans have now become. subsepts took be supposed therefore that the division into place when it became too inconvenient to prohibit marriage
'

General

Briggs

quoted
p. 86.

by

Mr.

Farldi in

Bombay

Gazetteer,

Muham-

- A. Wellesley (1800), quoted in Mr. Crooke's edition of Hobson-Jobson,

madans of Gujarat,

art.

Brinjarry.

II

IINTERNAL

STRUCTURE

171

throughout the whole body of the sept, as has happened other cases. The Mathuria Banjaras take their name ultra and appear to be Brahmans. from Mathura or " They wear the sacred thread/ know the Gayatri Mantra, and to the present day abstain from meat and Hquor, They always subsisting entirely on grain and vegetables.
in

Charans and servants {Jdiigar) in their manual labour, and would not themselves work for a remuneration otherwise than by carrying grain, which was and still is their legitimate occupation but it was not considered undignified to cut wood and grass for the household. Both Mathuria and they wear Labhana men are fairer than the Charans better jewellery and their loin-cloths have a silk border, while those of the Charans are of rough, common cloth." The Mathurias are sometimes known as Ahiwasi, and may be connected with the Ahiwasis of the Hindustani Districts, who also drive pack-bullocks and call themselves Brahmans.

had a

sufficiency of

villages to perform all necessary

But

it

is

naturally a sin for a

Brahman
is

to load the sacred

ox, and

any one who does so

held to have derogated

The Mathurias are divided from the priestly order. according to Mr. Cumberlege into four groups called Pande, Dube, Tiwari and Chaube, all of which are common titles of Hindustani Brahmans and signify a man learned in It is probable one, two, three and four Vedas respectively. that these groups are cxogamous, marrying with each
other,

but

this

is

not

stated.

The

third

division,

the

Labhanas, may derive their name from lavana, salt, and probably devoted themselves more especially to the carriage They are said to be Rajputs, and to be of this staple. descended from Mota and Mela, the cowherds of Krishna. The fourth subdivision are the Dharis or bards of the caste, who rank below the others. According to their own story their ancestor was a member of the Bhat caste, who became a disciple of Nanak, the Sikh apostle, and with him attended Here a feast given by the Mughal Emperor Humayun. he ate the flesh of a cow or buffalo, and in consequence He was became a Muhammadan and was circumcised. employed as a musician at the Mughal court, and his sons
""

Cumberlege,

loc.

cit.

Cumberlege, pp. 28, 29.

1/2

DANJARA
"

PART

joined the Charans and became the bards of the Banjara


caste.

The
the

Dharis," Mr. Cumberlege continues, " are both

musicians

and

mendicants

they

sing

in

praise of their

own and
Delhi
;

Charan

ancestors

and of the old kings of


of the

while at
hamlets,

certain

seasons

year

they

visit

Charan

bullock or a
to Gaji

when each family gives them a young few rupees. They are Muhammadans, but

worship Sarasvati and at their marriages offer up a he-goat

and Gandha, the two sons of the original Bhat, who became a IMuhammadan. At burials a Fakir is called to
read the prayers."

Besides the above four main divisions, there are a


ber of others, the caste being

num-

now

of a very

mixed

character.

Muhammadan groups are given by Sir Turkia and Mukeri. The Turkia have thirtysix septs, some with Rajput names and others territorial or titular. They seem to be a mixed group of Hindus who may have embraced Islam as the religion of their employers. The Mukeri Banjaras assert that they derive their name from Mecca (Makka), which one of their Naiks, who had his camp in the vicinity, assisted Father Abraham in building.^ Mr. Crooke thinks that the name may be a corruption of Makkeri and mean a seller of maize. Mr. Cumberlege says " Multanis and Mukeris have been called Banjaras of them also, but have nothing in common with the caste the Multanis are carriers of grain and the Mukeris of wood and timber, and hence the confusion may have arisen between them." But they in Saugor are now held to be Banjaras by common usage the Mukeris also deal in cattle. From Chanda a different set
principal

Two
H.

Elliot, the

of subcastes

is

reported called Bhusarjin, Ladjin, Saojin and


first

Kanhejin

the

may

take their
is

chaff of wheat, while

Lad

the

name from bliusa, the term -used for people


found, divided into the

coming from Gujarat, and Sao means a banker. In Sambalpur


again a class of Thuria Banjaras
of the 52 districts, the
is

Bandesia, Atharadesia, Navadcsia and Chhadesia, or the


18
districts,
first

men

districts respectively.

The

the 9 districts and the and last two of these take

food and marry with each other.

Other groups are the Guar

Banjaras, apparently from Guara or Gwrda, a milkman, the


'

Elliot's Races,

quoted by Mr. Crooke, ibidem.

II

MARRIAi.E: HETROr/fAL

173

Guguria Baiijaras, wiio may, Mr. Ilira Lai suggests, take their name from trading in gi'tgar^ a Icind of gum, and the Bahrup l^anjaras, who arc Nats or acrobats. In Bcrar also a number of the caste have become respectable cultivators and now call themselves Wanjari, disclaiming any connection with the Banjaras, probably on account of the bad reputation for crime Many of the Wanjaris have been attached to these latter. allowed to rank with the Kunbi caste, and call themselves Wanjari Kunbis in order the better to dissociate themselves The existing caste is therefore of a from their parent caste. very mixed nature, and the original Brahman and Charan strains, though still perfectly recognisable, cannot have maintained their purity.

At a betrothal in Nimar the bridegroom and his friends come and stay in the next village to that of the bride. The two
parties

6.

Mar-

betrothal

meet on the boundary of the village, and here the brideprice is fixed, which is often a very large sum, ranging from
Rs.
will

200
not

to
let

Rs. 1000.
to be

Until the price

is

paid the father

In Yeotmal, made, the parties go to a liquor-shop and there a betel-leaf and a large handful of sugar are distributed to everybody. Here the price to be paid for the bride amounts to Rs. 40 and four young bullocks. Prior to the wedding the bridegroom goes and stays for a month or so in the house of the bride's father, and during this time he must provide a supply of liquor daily for the bride's male relatives. The period was formerly longer, but now extends to a month at the most. While he resides at the bride's house the bridegroom wears a cloth over his head so that his face cannot be seen. Probably the prohibition

the bridegroom into his house.


is

when a

betrothal

against seeing him applies to the bride only, as the rule in

Berar

is

that
girl

between the betrothal and

marriage

of a

Charan
house,

she

may

not eat or drink

in

the bridegroom's

Mathuria
old,

show her face to him or any of his relatives. must be wedded before they are seven years but the Charans permit them to remain single until after
or
girls

adolescence.

Banjara

marriages are frequently held

in

the rains, a

7.

Mar-

season forbidden to other Hindus, but naturally the most convenient to them, because in the dry weather they are usuall}'

"^^^

174

BANJARA
For the marriage ceremony they pitch a tent

part
in lieu

travelling.

of the marriage-shed, and on the ground they place two ricepounding pestles, round which the bride and bridegroom

make

the seven turns.


-

Others substitute for the pestles


of grain in order to

a pack

saddle with two bags

bolise their
is

camp

life.

During the turns the

in case

held by the Joshi or village priest, such an occurrence being probably a she should fall
;

symhand or some other Brahman,


girl's

Afterwards, the very unlucky omen. Brahman has to pursue and catch her.
is

girl

runs

away and

the

In Bhandara the girl

clad only in a light skirt


all

rubbed
difficult.

over with

oil

in

and breast-cloth, and her body is order to make his task more

During
rice,
;

this

time the bride's party pelt the Brahis

man

with

turmeric and areca-nuts, and sometimes even

with stones

and

if

he

forced to cry with the pain,

it

is

But if he finally catches the girl, he is and sits there holding a brass plate dais to a conducted which the bridegroom's party drop into front of him, in mentioned of a Brahman having obtained A case is presents. Among the Mathuria Banjaras of Rs. 70 in this manner. Berar the ceremony resembles the usual Hindu type.^ Before the wedding the families bring the branches of eight or ten different kinds of trees, and perform the Jiom or fire
considered luck}^

Brahman knots the clothes of the with them. When the couple together, and they walk round the fire. bride arrives at the bridegroom's hamlet after the wedding, two small brass vessels are given to her she fetches water in
sacrifice
;

these and returns

them

to the

women

of the boy's family,

who

mix this with other water previously drawn, and the girl, who up to this period was considered of no caste at all, becomes Food is cooked with this water, and the bride a Mathuria."
and bridegroom are formally received into the husband's kttri or hamlet. It is possible that the mixing of the water may be a survival of the blood covenant, whereby a girl was received into her husband's clan on her marriage by her blood being

mixed with that of her husband.'^ Or symbolical of the union of the families.
after
1

it

may

be simply
localities

In

some

the wedding the bride and bridegroom are


Cumberlege, pp. 4, ^ This custom
5.
is
'

made
I.e.

to

Cumberlege,

noticed in the article on Khairwar.

II

111 RTJ{

AND

Dl'lA I'll
it

175
is

stand on two bullocks, which arc driven forward, and


believed that whichever of them
to die.
falls off first will

be the

first

Owing
is

to the scarcity of

women

in

the caste a

widow

8.

Widow

seldom allowed to go out of the family, and when her husband dies she is taken either by his elder or younger
brother
;

remarriajre.

this

is

in opposition

to the usual

Hindu

practice,

which forbids the marriage of a woman to her deceased husband's elder brother, on the ground that as successor to the headship of the joint family he stands to her, at least
potentially, in

the light of a father.

If the

widow
first

prefers

another
its

man and

runs

away

to

him,

the

husband's

and threaten, in the event of being refused, to abduct a girl from this man's family in exchange for the widow. But no case of abduction has occurred in recent years. In Berar the compensation claimed in the case of a woman marrying out of the family amounts to Rs. 75, with Rs. 5 for the Naik or headman of
relatives claim compensation,

the family.

Should the widow elope without her brother-

in-law's consent, he chooses ten or twelve of his friends to

go and
the

man who has these men with

dharna (starving themselves) before the hut of taken her. He is then bound to supply food and liquor until he has paid the customary sum, when he may marry the widow.^ In the event of the second husband being too poor to pay monetary compensation, he gives a goat, which is cut into eighteen pieces and distributed to the community.^ After the birth of a child the mother is unclean for five days, and lives apart in a separate hut, which is run up for her use in the kuri or hamlet. On the sixth day she washes the feet of all the children in the kuri, feeds them and then
sit

9-

Birth
^^^^'^^'

^"^

returns to her husband's hut.

When
rule

a child
is

is

born

in

moving tdnda
five

or camp, the

same

observed, and for

daily
1

days the mother walks alone after the camp during the march. The caste bury the bodies of unmarried
this

Cuniberlege, p. 18. Mr. Hlra Lai suggests that

custom may have something to do with the phrase Athara jat ke gayi, or 'She has gone to the eighteen castes,' used of a woman who has been turned out of the community. This phrase

seems, however, to be a euphemism, eighteen castes being a term of indefinite multitude for any or no caste,

The number eighteen may be selected from the same unknown association which causes the goat to be cut into
eighteen pieces.

176

BANJARA
rites

part

persons and those dying of smallpox and burn the others.

Their

and are observed " Death a saying in a foreign land is to be preferred, where there are no kinsfolk to mourn, and the corpse is a feast for birds and animals " but this may perhaps be taken rather as an expression of philosophic resignation to the fate which must
strict,

of mourning are not

only for three days.

The Banjaras have

be an
10. Reii-

in store for

many

of them, than a real preference, as with


to die at

most people the desire


instinct.

home almost amounts


is

to

One

of the tutelary deities of the Banjaras


is

Banjari
It
is

1'";
Devi.

Devi, whose shrine


often represented

usually located in the forest.


stones, a large stone

by a heap of

smeared

with vermilion being placed on the top of the heap to repreWhen a Banjara passes the place he sent the goddess.
casts a stone

11.

Mithu

Bhukia.

as a prayer to the goddess to A similar from the dangers of the forest. practice of offering bells from the necks of cattle is recorded by Mr. Thurston ^ "It is related by Moor that he passed This a tree on which were hanging several hundred bells. who, sacrifice of the Banjaras (Lambaris), was a superstitious bells passing this tree, are in the habit of hanging a bell or upon it, which they take from the necks of their sick cattle, Our expecting to leave behind them the complaint also. servants particularly cautioned us against touching these diabolical bells, but as a few of them were taken for our own cattle, several accidents which happened were imputed to the anger of the deity to whom these offerings were made who, they say, inflicts the same disorder on the unhappy bullock who carries a bell from the tree, as that In their houses the from which he relieved the donor." Banjari Devi is represented by a pack-saddle set on high in the room, and this is worshipped before the caravans set out on their annual tours. Another deity is Mlthu Bhukia, an old freebooter, who he is venerated by the lived in the Central Provinces

upon the heap

protect

him

dacoits as the most clever dacoit


caste,

known

in

the annals of the


for

and a hut was usually

set apart
p.

him

in

each
Moor's

1 Ethnographic Notes in Southern Narrative of Little s Detachment.

India,

344,

quoting from

II

.SV/Vi

lUlAlA

177

hamlet, a staff carrying a white flag being planted before

Before setting out for a clacoity, the men engaged would assemble at the hut of Mlthu Bhtikia, and, burning a lamp if the wick of the lamp before him, ask for an omen drooped the omen was propitious, and the men present then set out at once on the raid without returning home. They might not speak to each other nor answer if challenged for if any one spoke the charm would be broken and the and they should protection of Mithu 15hukia removed
it.
;

either

return

to

take the

omens again
It

or

give

up

that

particular dacoity altogether.^

has been recorded as a

characteristic trait of Banjaras that they will, as a rule, not

answer if spoken to when engaged on a robbery, and the custom probably arises from this observance but the worship of Mlthu Bhukia is now frequently neglected. After a successful dacoity a portion of the spoil would be set apart for Mlthu Bhukia, and of the balance the Nfiik or headman of the village received two shares if he participated in the crime the man who struck the first blow or did most towards the common object also received two shares, and all the rest one share. With Mlthu Bhukia's share a feast was given at which thanks were returned to him for the
;

success of the enterprise, a burnt offering of incense being

made

in

his tent

and a

libation of liquor

poured over the

flagstaff.

portion of the food was sent to the


sat
in

women

and children, and the men were not allowed to share


nor to enter his hut.

down

to the feast.

Women

the worship of

Mlthu Bhukia
is
12. Siva

Another favourite deity


given by Colonel Mackenzie

is
^

Siva Bhaia, whose story


as follows
for
:

by Mari Mata, the goddess of cholera,


Rathor,
is

The love borne the handsome Siva


"
;

^'^^'^

an event of our

own

times (1874)

she proposed
;

to him, but his heart being pre-engaged he rejected her

and
died,

in

consequence

his earthly bride

was smitten sick and

and the hand of the goddess fell heavily on Siva all his schemes and blighting his fortunes and possessions, until at last he gave himself up to her. She then possessed him and caused him to prosper exceedingly, gifting him with supernatural power until his fame was
himself, thwarting
^

Cumberlege,
II

p.

35.

Bei-ai-

Census Report, i8Si.

VOL.

178

BANJARA

noised abroad, and he was venerated as the saintly Siva

Bhaia or great brother to all women, being himself unable But in his old age the goddess capriciously marry. wished him to marry and have issue, but he refused and was slain and buried at Pohur in Berar. A temple was erected over him and his kinsmen became priests of it, and hither large numbers are attracted by the supposed efficacy of vows made to Siva, the most sacred of all oaths being that taken in his name." Banjara If a swears by Siva Bhaia, placing his right hand on the bare head of his son and heir, and grasping a cow's tail in his left, he will fear to jaerjure himself, lest by doing so he should bring injury on his son and a murrain on his
to
cattle.^

worshipped their packthey lead the sick man to the feet of the bullock called Hatadiya.^ On this animal no burden is ever laid, but he is decorated with streamers of red-dyed silk, and tinkling bells with many brass chains
Naturally
"

also

the

Banjaras

cattle.'"'

When

sickness occurs

and rings on neck and feet, and silken tassels hanging in all directions he moves steadily at the head of the convoy, and at the place where he lies down when he is tired they pitch their camp for the day at his feet they make their vows when difficulties overtake them, and in illness, whether of themselves or their cattle, they trust to his worship for
;
;

a cure."
in his paper that the Banjaras themselves Sikhs, and it is noticeable that the Charan subcaste say that their ancestors were three Rajput boys who
call

Mr. Balfour also mentions

followed

Guru Nanak, the prophet of the

Sikhs.

The

influ-

ence of

Nanak appears
those

to have been widely extended over


felt

northern India, and to have been

people other than


religion.

who

actually

by large bodies of the embraced the Sikh

Cumberlege states * that before starting to his marriage the bridegroom ties a rupee in his turban in honour of Guru Nanak, which is afterwards expended in sweetmeats.
'

Cumberlege,

p.

21.

Crook e's Tribes and


'

Castes.

The

followini;

instance

from Mr. I'alfour's article, Tribes of Central India,' inJ.A.S.B., new series, vol. xiii., quoted in Mr.

taken Migratory
is

From
' '

the

Sanskrit
it

meaning
to slay
*

That which
p.

is

Hatya-adhya, most sinful

(Balfour).
12.

Monograph,

11

WrrCIICRAFT

179

But otherwise the modern Banjaras do not appear to any Sikh observances.

retain

"The
by

Banjaras," Sir A. L}all writes/ "are terribly vexed

15.
'^'^'^

vvitch''

which their wandcrin<^ and precarious existcnce especially exposes them in the shape of fever, rheumaSolemn inquiries are still held in the tism and dysentery. wild jungles where these people camp out like gipsies, and many an unlucky hag has been strangled by sentence of their secret tribunals." The business of magic and witchcraft was in the hands of two classes of Bhagats or magicians, one good and the other bad," who may correspond to the European practitioners of black and white magic. The good Bhagat is called Nimbu-katna or lemon -cutter, a lemon speared on a knife being a powerful averter of evil spirits. He is a total abstainer from meat and liquor, and fasts once a week on the day sacred to the deity whom he venerates, usually Mahadeo he is highly respected and never panders to vice. But the Janta, the Wise or
witchcraft, to
;
'

Cunning Man,'
is

is

of a

different

type,

and the following

an account of the devilry often enacted when a deputahim to inquire into the cause of a prolonged illness, a cattle murrain, a sudden death or other misfortune.
tion visited

woman might

often

be called a

Dakun

or

witch

in

and when once this word had been used, the husband or nearest male relative would be regularly bullied into consulting the Janta. Or if some woman had been ill for a week, an avaricious ^ husband or brother would begin to whisper foul play. Witchcraft would be mentioned, and the wise man called in. He would give the sufferer a quid
spite,

of betel, muttering an incantation, but this rarely effected a


cure, as
it

was against the

interest of all parties that

it

should

do

would then go to their Naik, tell him that the sick person was bewitched, and ask him to send a deputation to the Janta or witch-doctor. This would be at once despatched, consisting of one male adult from each house in the hamlet, with one of the sufferer's relatives. On the road the party would bury a bone or other article to
so.

The

sufferer's relatives

Asiatic Stttdies,\. p. Ii8(ed. 1899).

Cumberlege,

p.

23

et
is

seq.

The
re-

description of witchcraft

wholly

produced from his Monograph. ^ His motive being the fine on the witch's famih-.

inflicted

i8o

BANJARA

part

wisdom of the witch-doctor. But he was not to be caught out, and on their arrival he would bid the deputation rest, and come to him for consultation on the following day. Meanwhile during the night the Janta would be thoroughly Next morning, coached by some accomplice in the party. meeting the deputation, he would tell every man all particulars of his name and family name the invalid, and tell the party to bring materials for consulting the spirits, such as oil,
test the
;

vermilion,

sugar,

dates,

cocoanut, chironji} and

sesamum.

In the evening, holding a lamp, the Janta would be possessed

he would mention all and indignantly inquire why they had buried the bone on the road, naming it and
;

by Mariai, the goddess of cholera

particulars of the sick man's illness,

describing the place.

If this did not satisfy the deputation,

a goat would be brought, and he would name its sex with any distinguishing marks on the body. The sick person's representative would then produce his iiazar or fee, formerly

would now begin a

Rs. 25, but lately the double of this or more. The Janta sort of chant, introducing the names of

the families of the kuri other than that containing her

who

and heap on them all kinds of Finally, he would assume an ironic tone, extol the abuse. virtues of a certain family, become facetious, and praise its representative then present. This man would then question

was

to be proclaimed a witch,

the Janta on
tions,

all

points regarding his

own

family, his connec-

worldly goods, and what gods he worshipped, ask


sorcery,

who

and how and why she practised it in this particular instance. But the witchdoctor, having taken care to be well coached, would answer everything correctly and fix the guilt on to the witch. A goat would be sacrificed and eaten with liquor, and the deputation would return. The punishment for being proclaimed a Dakun or witch was formerly death to the woman and a fine to be paid by her relatives to the bewitched person's family. The woman's husband or her sons would be directed to kill her, and if they refused, other men were deputed to murder her, and bury the body at once with all the clothing and ornaments then on her person, while a further fine would be

was the witch, who taught her

exacted from the family for not doing away with her themselves.
1

The

fruil

of

Buchanania

latifolia.

II

IIUMy\N SACRII-ICE

i8i

But murder for witchcraft has been almost entirely stopped, and nowadays the husband, after being fined a i^w head of cattle, which are given to the sick man, is turned out of the
It is quite possible, however, that an village with his wife. obnoxious old hag would even now not escape death, especially if the money fine were not forthcoming, and an instance is known in recent times of a mother being murdered by her The whole village combined to screen these three sons. amiable young men, and eventually they made the Janta the scapegoat, and he got seven years, while the murderers Colonel Mackenzie writes that, could not be touched.

Curious to relate, the Jantas, known locally as Bhagats, in order to become possessed of their alleged powers of divina"

and prophecy, require to travel to Kazhe, beyond Surat, there to learn and be instructed by low-caste Koli impostors." This is interesting as an instance of the powers of witchcraft being attributed by the Hindus or higher race to the indigenous primitive tribes, a rule which Dr. Tylor and Dr. Jevons consider to hold good generally in the history of magic.
tion

Several instances are


practised

known

also of the Banjaras having


:

i6.

Human

In human sacrifice. Mr. Thurston states former times the Lambadis, before setting out on a journey, used to procure a little child and bury it in the ground up to the shoulders, and then drive their loaded bullocks over
^

"

the unfortunate victim. In proportion to the bullocks thoroughly trampling the child to death, so their belief in a successful journey increased." The Abbe Dubois describes

another form of sacrifice


"

The Lambadis are accused of the still more atrocious When they wish to crime of offering up human sacrifices. perform this horrible act, it is said, they secretly carry off the Having conducted the victim to first person they meet. some lonely spot, they dig a hole in which they bury him up While he is still alive they make a sort of to the neck. lamp of dough made of flour, which they place on his head this they fill with oil, and light four wicks in it. Having done this, the men and women join hands and, forming a
;

1 Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, p. 507, quoting from the Rev. J. Cain, Ind. Ant. viii. (1879).

Hindu

Manners,

Customs

and

Ceremonies, p. 70.

l82
circle,

BANJARA
dance round
their victim, singing

and making a great Mr. Cumberlege records ^ the following statement of a child kidnapped by a Banjara caravan After explaining how he was kidnapped and the in I 87 I. tip of his tongue cut off to give him a defect in speech, the Kunbi lad, taken from Sahungarhi, in the Bhandara
noise until he expires."
District,

went on to say

that, "

The tdnda

(caravan) encamped

for the night in the jungle.

In the morning a

woman named

Gangi said that the devil was in her and that a sacrifice must On this four men and three women took a boy to be made. They fed him a place they had made for puja (worship). with milk, rice and sugar, and then made him stand up, when Gangi drew a sword and approached the child, who tried to caught and brought back to this place, Gangi, run away holding the sword with both hands and standing on the Gangi colchild's right side, cut off his head with one blow. idol is sprinkled it on the idol this and blood lected the high, and something inches has made of stone, is about 9 The camp marched that day, and sparkling in its forehead. for four or five days consecutively, without another sacrifice but on the fifth day a young woman came to the camp to sell curds, and having bought some, the Banjaras asked her She did come, to come in in the evening and eat with them. Early and after eating with the women slept in the camp. next morning she was sacrificed in the same way as the boy had been, but it took three blows to cut ofif her head it was done by Gangi, and the blood was sprinkled on the stone About a month ago Sitaram, a Gond lad, who had idol. also been kidnapped and was in the camp, told me to run away as it had been decided to offer me up in sacrifice at The child having the next Jiuti festival, so I ran away." been brought to the police, a searching and protracted inquiry was held, which, however, determined nothing, though
; ; ;
;

it 17.

did not disprove his story.

Ad:

The Banjara
general rule
is

caste

is

not closed to outsiders, but the

mission of
outsiders

to

admit only

women who have been

married

kidnapped
children

to Banjara men.

Women

of the lowest and impure castes


"

and

slaves.

^^^ cxcludcd, and for


'

some unknown reason the Patwas


silk

and

Monograph, p. 19. The Patwas are weavers of

thread and the Nunias are masons and


navvies.

II

KIDNArri-in ClIIIJyREN

AND SLAVES
^

183

that

In Nimar it is stated Nunias arc bracketed with these. might formerly Gonds, Korkus and even Balahis become Banjaras, but this does not happen now, because the caste has lost its occupation of carrying goods, and there In former times therefore no inducement to enter it. is these they were much addicted to kidnapping children were whipped up or enticed away whenever an opportunity The children were presented itself during their expeditions. first put into the gotiis or grain bags of the bullocks and so carried for a few days, being made over at each halt to the care of a woman, who would pop the child back into its The bag if any stranger passed by the encampment. tongues of boys were sometimes slit or branded with hot

gold,

this
still

last

being the ceremony of initiation into the


in

Nimar. Girls, if they were as old as seven, sometimes disfigured for fear of recognition, and for were marking-nut^ tree would be juice of purpose the the this smeared on one side of the face, which burned into the Such children skin and entirely altered the appearance. used as concubines Girls would be were known as Jangar. and servants of the married wife, and boys would also be employed as servants. Jangar boys would be married to Jangar girls, both remaining in their condition of servitude. But sometimes the more enterprising of them would The rule was that abscond and settle down in a village.
caste

used

for seven

generations
in

the

children

of

Jangars

or

slaves

continued
nised
in

that condition, after which they were recog-

as proper Banjaras. The Jangar could not draw smoke through the stem of the huqqa when it was passed round in the assembly, but must take off the stem The Jangar also could not and inhale from the bowl.

eat

off the bell-metal plates of his master, because these At were liable to pollution, but must use brass plates. one time the Banjaras conducted a regular traffic in female slaves between Gujarat and Central India, selling in each country the girls whom they had kidnapped in

the other.^
1

in;4
-

An impure caste of weavers, rankwith the Mahars. Seniecarpns Anacardiuiii.

Malcolm.
ii.

Memoir

of

Central

India,

p.

296.

84

BANJARA

part

i8. Dress.

age a Charan girl only wears a tucked into the waist and carried After this she may have over the left arm and the head. anklets and bangles on the forearm and a breast -cloth. But until she is married she may not have the zudnkri or
to twelve years of
skirt with a shoulder-cloth

Up

curved anklet, which marks that estate, nor wear bone or When she is ten years old a Labhana girl is given two small bundles containing a nut,
ivory bangles on the upper arm.^

some cowries and


one
in

rice,

which are knotted to two corners of

hung over the shoulder, This denotes maidenhood. The bundles are considered sacred, are always knotted to the shoulder-cloth in wear, and are only removed to be tucked into the waist at the girl's marriage, where they are worn till death. These bundles alone distinguish the Labhana from the Mathuria woman. Women often have their hair hanging down beside the face in front and woven behind with silver thread into a plait down the back. This is known as Anthi, and has a number of cowries at the end. They have large bell-shaped ornaments of silver tied over the head and hanging down behind the ears, the hollow part of the ornament being stuffed with sheep's wool dyed red and to these are attached little bells, while the anklets on the feet are also hollow and contain little stones or balls, which tinkle as they move. They have skirts, and separate short cloths drawn across the shoulders according to the northern fashion, usually red or green in colour, and along
the dupatta or shoulder-cloth and
front

and one behind.

the skirt-borders double lines of cowries are sewn.


breast-cloths

Their

ornamented with needle-work embroidery and small pieces of glass sewn into them, and are tied behind with cords of many colours whose ends are decorated with cowries and beads. Strings of beads, ten to twenty thick, threaded on horse-hair, are worn round the neck. Their favourite ornaments are cowries,' and they
are

profusely

'
'^

Cumberlege, p. i6. Small double shells which are


tracts.

change
still

for a

rupee could not be had

in Chhattlsgarh outside the

two prin-

used to a slight e.Ktent as a currency in

backward
an

This would

seem

impossibly cumbrous method of carrying money about nowadays, but I have been informed by a comparatively

As the cowries were towns. a form of currency they were probably held sacred, and hence sewn on to clothes as a charm, just as gold and silver are used for ornacipal

young

official that in his

father's lime,

ments.

DKESS
have
these

iS:

on

their

dress,

in

their

liouses

and

on

the

trappinj^s of their bullocks.

On
in

the arms they have ten or


default of this lac, horn or

twelve bangles of ivory, or


cocoanut-shell.

Mr.

Ball

states

that

he was

"at

once
of
^

struck by the peculiar costumes and brilliant


these Indian gipsies.

clothing

ance of the gipsies The most distinctive ornament of a Banjara married woman is, however, a small stick about 6 inches long made of the

They recalled to my mind the appearof the Lower Danube and Wallachia."

wood

of the kJiair or catechu.

In

Nimar

this

is

given to a
it

woman by

her husband at marriage, and she wears

after-

wards placed upright on the top of the head, the hair being wound round it and the head-cloth draped over it in a graceful fashion. Widows leave it off, but on remarriage adopt it again. The stick is known as chunda by the Banjaras, but outsiders call it singh or horn. In Yeotmal, instead of one, the women have two little sticks fixed upright in the hair. The rank of the woman is said to be shown by the angle at which she wears this horn." The dress of the men presents no features of special interest. In Nimar they usually have a necklace of coral beads, and some of them carry, slung on a thread round the neck, a
p. 516. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable contains the following notice of " Mr. horns as an article of dress Buckingham says of a Tyrian lady, She wore on her head a hollow silver horn rearing itself up obliquely from the forehead. It was some four inches in diameter at the root and pointed at the extremity. This peculiarity reminded me forcibly of the expression " Lift not up your of the Psalmist horn on high ; speak not with a stiff neck. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted" (Ps. Ixxv. Bruce found in Abyssinia the 5, 10).' silver horns of warriors and distinguished men. In the reign of Henry V. the horned headgear was introduced into England and from the effigy of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel, at Arundel Church, who is represented with the horns outspread to a great extent, we may infer that the length
^
:
'

Jtmgic Life in India,

of the head -horn, like the length of the shoe -point in the reign of Henry VI., etc., marked the degree of rank.

To

cut off such horns would be to degrade and to exalt and extend such horns would be to add honour and dignity to the wearer." Webb {Herit;

age of Dress, p.

117)

writes:

"Mr.

Elworthy in a paper to the British Association at Ipswich in 1865 considered the crown to be a development from horns of honour. He maintained that the symbols found in the head of the god Serapis were the elements from which were formed the composite head-dress called the crown into which horns entered to a very great extent." This seems a doubtful speculation, but
still
it

may

be quite possible that the

idea of distinguishing by a crown the leader of the tribe was originally taken

herd.

from the antlers of the leader of the The helmets of the Vikings were also, I believe, decorated with
horns.

86

BANJARA
tooth-pick and
ear-scraper, while

part

tin

small mirror

and

comb

are kept in the head-cloth so that their toilet can be

performed anywhere. Mr. Cumberlege ^ notes that in former times all Charan Banjaras when carrying grain for an army placed a twig
the sacred nlui " when available, in their and show that they were on the war-path that they would do the same now if they had occasion to fight to the death on any social matter or under any supof

some

tree,

turban

to

posed grievance. The Banjaras eat

all

kinds of meat, including fowls and

pork, and drink liquor.

But the Mathurias abstain from

Major Gunthorpe states that the both flesh and liquor. Banjaras are accustomed to drink before setting out for a dacoity or robbery and, as they smoke after drinking, the remains of leaf-pipes lying about the scene of action may
indicate their handiwork.
castes,

They rank below

the cultivating

them.
as

and Brahmans When engaged

will
in

not take water to drink from


the carrying trade, they usually
to such regular villages

lived in kun's or hamlets attached

had considerable
the tdnda
the the

tracts of

waste land belonging to them.

When
trips,

or caravan started

on

its

long carrying

young men and some

of the

working bullocks, while remainder of the women and children remained to tend the
with

women went with it the old men and the

breeding cattle
rented a
little

in

the hamlet.

In

land in the village

and paid

also a carrying fee on the

Nimar they generally to give them a footing, number of cattle present.

Their spare time was constantly occupied in the manufacture of hempen twine and sacking, which was much superior to Even in Captain Forsyth's ^ time that obtainable in towns. (1866) the construction of raihvays and roads had seriously
interfered with the

Banjaras' calling, and the}' had perforce

taken to agriculture.

Many

of

them have

settled

in

the

new ryotwari villages in Nimar as Government tenants. They still grow tilW^ in preference to other crops, because this oilseed can be raised without much labour or skill, and
during their former nomadic
*

life

they were accustomed to

Monograph, p. 40. Melia indica.

^
*

Author of the Niutar Settlement Report.


Sesatmiiu.

II

SOCIAL CUSTOMS
it

187

sow

on any poor

strip of land wliich

they might rent for


to

a season.

Some

of them also are accustomed


in

leave a

part of

tiieir

holding untilled
life.

memory
villages

of their former and

more prosperous
built

In

many

proper

houses,

but

continue

to

live

they have not yet in mud huts

They consider it unlucky to inhabit thatched with grass. a house with a cement or tiled roof; this being no doubt a Their houses superstition arising from their camp life.
that

main beams do not cross, must never be in such a position that if projected it would cut another main beam The same rule probably but the beams may be parallel. In governed the arrangement of tents in their camps.

must

also be built so

that the

is,

the main

beam of

a house

Nimar they prefer to live at some distance from water, probably that is of a tank or river and this seems to be ^ a survival of a usage mentioned by the Abbe Dubois " Among other curious customs of this odious caste is one that obliges them to drink no water which is not drawn The water from rivers and tanks from springs or wells.
;
:

being thus forbidden, they are obliged in case of necessity to dig a little hole by the side of a tank or river and take the water filtering through, which, by this means, is supposed
to

become spring

water."

It

is

possible that this rule

may

Colonel had its origin in a sanitary precaution. Sleeman notes ^ that the Banjaras on their carrying trips preferred by-paths through jungles to the high roads along cultivated plains, as grass, wood and water were more abundant along such paths and when they could not avoid

have

the high roads, they

commonly encamped

as

far

as they

could from villages and towns, and upon the banks of rivers

and streams, with the same object of obtaining a

sufficient

Now it is well known supply of grass, wood and water. that the decaying vegetation in these hill streams renders And the water noxious and highly productive of malaria.
it

seems possible that the perception of

this

fact led

the

Banjaras to dig shallow wells by the sides of the streams for their drinking-water, so that the supply thus obtained might be in some degree filtered by percolation through the
1

Hindu

Manners^

Citsloms

and

Report on the Badhak or Bagri

CercmoJiies, p. 21.

Dacoits, p. 310.

88
soil

BANJARA
and freed from
its

part

intervening
the custom
practised,
travel.

vegetable germs.
its

And

may have grown

into a taboo,

underlying

reason being

unknown to the bulk of them, and be still though no longer necessary when they do not If this explanation be correct it would be an
Banjaras anticipated so
filters

interesting conclusion that the


as

far

they were
are

able

the sanitary precaution

by which our

soldiers

supplied

with

portable

when on

the

march.

Each kuri (hamlet)


'

or tdnda (caravan) had of

a chief or

leader with the designation of Naik, a Telugu word


lord
'

or

'

master.'

The

office

hereditary, and the choice also

meaning Naik ^ was only partly depended on ability. The

Naik had authority to decide all disputes in the communit}', and the only appeal from him lay to the representatives of Bhangi and Jhangi Naik's families at Narsi and Poona, and to Burthia Naik's successors in the Telugu country. As already seen, the Naik received two shares if he participated in a robbery or other crime, and a fee on the remarriage of a widow outside her family and on the discovery of a witch. Another matter in which he was specially interested was pig-sticking. The Banjaras have a particular breed of dogs, and with these they were accustomed to hunt wild pig on foot, carrying spears. When a pig was killed, the head was cut off and presented to the Naik or headman, and if any man was injured or gored by the pig in the hunt, the Naik kept and fed him without charge until
he recovered.

The following notice of the Banjaras and their dogs " They may be reproduced are brave and have the reputation of great independence, which I am not disposed to allow to them. The Wanjari indeed is insolent on the
: '"

and will drive his bullocks up against a Sahib or any one else but at any disadvantage he is abject enough. I remember one who rather enjoyed seeing his dogs attack me, whom he supposed alone and unarmed, but the sight of a cocked pistol made him very quick in calling them off, and very humble in praying for their lives, which I spared,
road,
;
'

Colonel Mackenzie's notes.


iii.

-Mr.

W.

!'.

Sinclair, C.S., in Ind. An/,

p.

1S4 {1S74).

II

THK NAIK OR
liis

f /J'.A

P M A N HA NJA RA DOGS

189

less for

entreaties

than because they were really noble


arc famous for their doi^s, of which

animals.
tiicre

The Wanjaris
black,

The first is a large, smooth dog, sometimes fawn-coloured, with a square heavy head, most resembling the Danish boarhound. This The second is also a large, is the true Wanjari dog. square-headed dog, but shaggy, more like a great underbred The third is an almost tailless spaniel than anything else. greyhound, of the type known all over India by the various names of Lat, Polygar, Rampuri, etc. They all run both by sight and scent, and with their help the Wanjaris kill a good deal of game, chiefly pigs but I think they usually keep clear of the old fighting boars. Besides sport and their legitimate occupations the Wanjaris seldom stickle at supplementing their resources by theft, especially of cattle and they are more than suspected
are three breeds.

generally

of infanticide."

The Banjaras

are credited with great affection


is

for their
:

one of them Once upon a time a Banjara, who had a faithful dog, took a loan from a Bania (moneylender) and pledged his dog with him as security for payment. And some time afterwards, while the dog was with the moneylender, a theft was committed in his house, and the dog followed the thieves and saw them throw the property into a tank. When they went away the dog brought the Bania to the tank and he found his property. He was therefore very pleased with the dog and wrote a letter to his master, saying that the loan was repaid, and tied it round his neck and said to him, Now, go back to your master.' So the dog started back, but on his way he met his master, the Banjara, coming to the Bania with the money for the repayment of the loan. And when the Banjara saw the dog he was angry with him, not seeing the letter, and thinking he had run away, and said to him, Why did you come, betraying your trust ? and he killed the dog in a rage. And after killing him he found the letter and was very grieved, so he built a temple to the dog's memory, which is called the Kukurra Mandhi. And in the temple is the image of a dog. This temple is in the Drug District, five miles from
told about
*
'
'

dogs, and the following legend

go

BANJARA

part

Balod.

similar story

is

told of the temple of

Kukurra

Math in Mandla. The following


from

notice of Banjara criminals

is

abstracted

Major Gunthorpe's interesting account:^ "In the palmy days of the tribe dacoities were undertaken on the Gangs of fifty to a hundred and fifty most extensive scale. well-armed men would go long distances from their tdndas
or

encampments

for the

purpose of attacking houses

in villages,

or treasure-parties or wealthy travellers on the high roads.

The more

intimate knowledge which the police have obtained

concerning the habits of this race, and the detection and punishment of many criminals through approvers, have aided in stopping the heavy class of dacoities formerly prevalent,

and

their operations are

now on

much

smaller scale.

In

British territory

arms are scarcely

carried, but each


is

man

has

a good stout stick {gedi), the bark of which


as to

peeled off so
generally

make it look whitish and fresh. The attack is commenced by stone -throwing and then a rush
the sticks being freely used

is made, and the victims almost invariably While plundering, Hindustani struck about the head or face. as a rule they never utter a word, spoken, but is sometimes another. Their loin-cloths are signals to one but grunt braced up, nothing is worn on the upper part of the body, In house dacoities and their faces are generally muffled.

men are posted at different corners of streets, each with a supply of well-chosen round stones to keep off any people Banjaras are very expert cattlecoming to the rescue.
sometimes taking as many as a hundred head or This kind of robbery is usually at a time. practised in hilly or forest country where the cattle are Secreting themselves they watch for the sent to graze. herdsman to have his usual midday doze and for the cattle
lifters,

even

more

to

stray to a

little

distance.

As many

as

possible

are

then driven off to a great distance and secreted in ravines If questioned they answer that the animals and woods.

belong to landowners and have been given into their charge graze, and as this is done every day the questioner After a time the cattle are thinks nothing more of it.
to
1

Azotes

on Criminal Tribes frequenting Bombay^ Berar and the Central

Provinces (Bombay, 1882).

II

TIU'.IR
individual

VIRTUES

igi

quietly sold to
at a distance.

purchasers or taken to markets


are
far

The
criminal,

Banjfiras,

however,

from

being

wholly

22.

Their
"^^'

and the number who have adopted an honest mode of livelihood is continually on the increase. Some allowance must be made for their having been deprived of their former calling by the cessation of the continual wars which distracted India under native rule, and the extension of roads and railways which has rendered their mode of transport by pack - bullocks almost entirely obsolete. At one time practically all the grain exported from Chhattlsgarh was carried by them. In 1881 Mr. Kitts
noted that the number of Banjaras convicted in the Berar
criminal courts was lower in proportion to
the
caste than that of

^"

the strength of

Muhammadans, Brahmans, Koshtis


Colonel
:

or Sunars,^ though the offences

committed by them were Mackenzie had quite a " A favourable opinion of them Banjara who can read and write is unknown. But their memories, from cultivation, are marvellous and very retentive. They carry in their heads, without slip or mistake, the most varied and complicated transactions and the share of each in such, striking a debtor and creditor account as accurately as the best -kept ledger, while their history and songs are all learnt by heart and transmitted orally from generation to generation. On the whole, and taken rightly in their
usually

more heinous.

clannish nature, their virtues preponderate over their vices.

In the main they are truthful and very brave, be it in war or the chase, and once gained over are faithful and With the pride of high descent and devoted adherents. with the right that might gives in unsettled and troublous times, these Banjaras habitually lord it over and contemn

the settled inhabitants of the plains.


foreseen their

And now

not having

own

fate,

or at least not timely having read

warnings given by a yearly diminishing occupation, which slowly has taken their bread away, it is a bitter pill for them to sink into the ryot class or, oftener still, under stern necessity to become the ryot's servant. But they are settling to their fate, and the time must come when
the
'

Berar Census Report (iSSi),

p.

51.

192
all

BARAI
their peculiar distinctive

PART
traditions will

marks and

be

forgotten."

I.

Origin
J.
.

Barai/ Tamboli, Pansari.


sellers

The
The

caste of growers

and

^"
traditions.

used indifferently for the caste in the Central Provinces, although some shades of variation in the meaning can be detected even Barai signifying especially one who grows the betelhere while vine, and Tamboli the seller of the prepared leaf Pansari, though its etymological meaning is also a dealer in
of the
betel-vine
leaf

three

terms

are

pan

or betel-vine leaves,

is

used rather
is

in

the general sense

of a druggist or grocer, and

apparently applied to the

Barai

caste

occupation.

because its members commonly follow this In Bengal, however, Barai and Tamboli are

distinct castes, the occupations of

growing and

selling the

they have been shown as different castes in the India Census Tables of whether the distinction 1 90 1, though it is perhaps doubtful In the Central Provinces holds good in northern India."
betel-leaf being there separately practised.

And

and Berar the Barais numbered nearly 60,000 persons

in

They reside principally in the Amraoti, Buldana, 191 I. The Nagpur, Wardha, Saugor and Jubbulpore Districts.
betel-vine
is

grown principally
It is

in

the northern Districts of


in

Saugor,
the

Damoh and
plain.

Jubbulpore and

those of Berar and

Nagpur

noticeable also that the growers and

sellers of the betel-vine

numbered only 14,000


in

in

191

out

of 33,000 actual workers of the Barai caste;

so that the

majority of them are


tion has been

now employed

ordinary agriculture, very probable deriva-

field-labour and other avocations.

No

'

it comes hedge or enclosure, and simply means Another derivation is from bardna, to avert gardener.' hailstorms, a calling which they still practise in northern Pdn^ from the Sanskrit parna (leaf), is the leaf India.

obtained for the word Barai, unless

from

bdri,

1 This notice is compiled principally from a good paper by Mr. M. C. Chatterji, retired Extra Assistant Commissioner, Jubbulpore, and from papers by Professor Sada Shiva Jai Ram, M.A., Government College, Jubbulpore, and Mr. Bhaskar Baji Rao Desh-

niukh,

Deputy Inspector of Schools,

Nagpur.
^
i.

%\\&xx\r\g^Hindii Tribes a7id Castes,

p.

330.

Nesfield, B?-ief

Viezv,

p.

15.

N.M^.P. Cens2is

ReJ>ort (i^gi),^^

7.

II

CAS'l'l'l

SUIiDIVlSlONS

193

f^ar cxccllcna-.
is

Ovviii^

to

the fact that they produce what


in

[)crhaps the

most esteemed luxury

the diet

of the

good

higher classes of native society, the Barais occupy a fairly social position, and one legend gives them a Ikahman
ancestry.

This

is

to the effect that the

first

Barai was a

Brfdiman
to

whom God

detected in a flagrant case of lying

His sacred thread was confiscated and his brother. being planted in the ground grew up into the first betelAnother story of the vine, which he was set to tend. In the origin of the vine is given later in this article. Central Provinces its cultivation has probably only flourished
to

centuries,

any appreciable extent for a period of about three and the Barai caste would appear to be mainly a functional one, made up of a number of immigrants from northern India and of recruits from different classes of the population, including a large proportion of the non-Aryan
element.
2.

The following endogamous divisions of the caste have Chaurasia, so called from the Chaurasi been reported pargana of the Mirzapur District Panagaria from Panagar Mahobia from Mahoba in Hamirpur Jaiswar in Jubbulpore from the town of Jais in the Rai Bareli District of the United Gangapari, coming from the further side of the Provinces Ganges and Pardeshi or Deshwari, foreigners. The above divisions all have territorial names, and these show that a large proportion of the caste have come from northern India, the different batches of immigrants forming separate endogamous groups on their arrival here. Other subcastes are the Kuman, said to be the Dudh Barais, from dildh, milk this occupation and become Barais Kunbis who have adopted Barais, and those or jungly the Jharia and Kosaria, the oldest who live in Chhattlsgarh the Purania or old Barais the Kumhardhang, who are said to be the descendants of a potter on whose wheel a betel-vine grew and the Lahuri Sen, who are a subcaste formed of the descendants of irregular unions. None of the other subcastes will take food from these last, and the name is locally derived from lahuri, lower, and se^i
:

Caste

divisions

or shreni, class.

The

caste

is

also

divided

into

a large

exogamous groups or septs which may be classified according to their names as territorial, titular and totemistic. O VOL. II

number

of

194

BARAI
territorial

Examples of

names

are

Kanaujia of Kanauj,

Burhanpuria of Burhanpur, Chitoria of Chitor in Rajputana,


Deobijha the name of a village in Chhattlsgarh, and KhaThese names rondiha from Kharond or Kalahandi State. must apparently have been adopted at random when a family either settled in one of these places or removed from it to

Examples of titular names of another part of the country. groups are Pandit (priest), Bhandari (store-keeper), Patharha
:

one),

Batkaphor (pot-breaker), Bhulya (the forgetful While Gujar (a caste), Gahoi (a caste), and so on. Katara (dagger), Kulha the following are totemistic groups (jackal), Bandrele (monkey), Chlkhalkar (from cJiikhal, mud), Where the group is named Richharia (bear), and others. after another caste it probably indicates that a man of that while the fact caste became a Barai and founded a family that some groups are totemistic shows that a section of the The large caste is recruited from the indigenous tribes. variety of names discloses the diverse elements of which the
(hail-averter),
:

caste
3.

is

made

up.

Mar-

riage.

Marriage within the gotra or exogamous group and within three degrees of relationship between persons connected
through females
is

prohibited.

Girls

are

usually

wedded
if

before adolescence, but no stigma attaches to the family

they remain single

beyond

this period.

If a girl is

seduced

by a man of the caste she is married to him by the pat, a In the southern Districts simple ceremony used for widows.
a barber cuts off a lock of her hair on the banks of a tank or
river

by way of

penalty,

and a

fast

is

also

imposed on

her,

If she while the caste-fellows exact a meal from her family. has an illegitimate child, it is given away to somebody else, if

possible.

girl

going wrong with an outsider

is

expelled

from the

caste.
is

Polygamy

permitted and no stigma attaches to the

taking of a second wife, though it is rarely done except for Among the Maratha Barais the bride special family reasons. and bridegroom must walk five times round the marriage
altar

and then worship the stone slab and roller used for This seems to show that the trade of the pounding spices.
Pansari or druggist
is

recognised as being a proper avocation


to worship the potter's

of the Barai.

They subsequently have

II

R I'll. I C,n)N
yVftcr

AND

SOCIAL STATUS
bride,
if

195

wheel.

the

wedding the

she

is

a child, goes
In Chhattis-

as usual to her husband's house for a few days.

garh she

accompanied by a few relations, the party being known as Chauthia, and during her stay in her husband's Widow house the bride is made to sleep on the ground. marriage is permitted, and the ceremony is conducted accordis

ing to the usage of the locality.

In Betul the relatives of the

widow take
he

the second husband before Maroti's shrine, where

offers a nut

and some

betel-leaf.

He

is

then taken to the

mrdguzar's house and presents to him Rs. 1-4-0, a cocoanut and some betel-vine leaf as the price of his assent to the
marriage.
If there is

Dcshmukh

of the village, a cocoanut

The nut offered to Maroti represents the deceased husband's spirit, and is subsequently placed on a plank and kicked off by the new bridegroom in token of his usurping the other's place, The property of the and finally buried to lay the spirit.
and
betel-leaf are also given to him.
first

husband descends to

his children,

and
it

failing

them

his

brother's children or collateral heirs take

before the widow.

A bachelor espousing a widow must first go through the ceremony of marriage with a swallow-wort plant. When a widower marries a girl a silver impression representing the deceased first wife is made and worshipped daily with the
family gods.

Divorce

is

permitted on sufficient grounds at

the instance of either party, being effected before the caste


If a husband divorces his wife committee or panchdyat. merely on account of bad temper, he must maintain her so long as she remains unmarried and continues to lead a moral life. The Barais especially venerate the Nag or cobra and

4^

Reii-

observe the festival of Nag-Panchmi (Cobra's


nection with which the following story
there was no betel -vine on the earth.
is

fifth),

in con-

foc^af"
status.

related.

Formerly

But when the five Pandava brothers celebrated the great horse sacrifice after their victory at Hastinapur, they wanted some, and so
messengers were sent down below the earth to the residence
of the queen of the serpents, in order to try and obtain
it.

Basuki, the queen of the serpents, obligingly cut off the top
^

The name
title

of a superior revenue officer under the Marathas,

now borne

as a courtesy

by certain

families.

196

BARAl

PART

joint of her little finger

and gave it to the messengers. This on earth, and pan creepers grew and sown the was brought up For this reason the betel-vine has no out of the joint.

blossoms or seeds, but the joints of the creepers are cut off and sown, when they sprout afresh and the betel-vine is
;

Nagbel or the serpent-creeper. On the day of NagPanchmi the Barais go to the bareja with flowers, cocoanuts and other offerings, and worship a stone which is placed in A goat or sheep it and which represents the Nag or cobra. is sacrificed and they return home, no leaf of the pan garden A cup of milk is also left, in being touched on that day. the belief that a cobra will come out of the pan garden and
called

drink

it.

The

Barais say that

members of

their caste are

never bitten by cobras, though many of these snakes frequent the gardens on account of the moist coolness and shade

which they

afford.

The Agarwala

Banias, from

whom

the

Barais will take food cooked without water, have also a legend
of descent from a

Naga

or snake princess.

'

Our mother's
of the

house
Bihar.^

is

of the race of the snake,' say the Agarwals

The

caste

usually burn
buried.

the

dead, with

ex-

ception of children and persons dying of leprosy or snakebite,

whose bodies are


in

ten days
children.

the

case

of

adults

In Chhattlsgarh if remains unburnt on the day following the cremation, the are penalised to the extent of an extra feast relatives Children are named on the sixth to the caste-fellows.
or twelfth

Mourning is observed for and for three days for any portion of the corpse

day

after

birth

either

by a

Brahman

or

by

the

women
is

of the household.

Two names

are given, one

for ceremonial

and the other for ordinary use. When a engaged he gives seven names for a boy and five for a girl, and the parents select one out of these. The Barais do not admit outsiders into the caste, and employ Brahmans for religious and ceremonial purposes.

Brahman

They

are allowed
so,

to eat

the flesh of clean animals, but

very rarely do

and they abstain from liquor. Brahmans will take sweets and water from them, and they occupy a position on account of the important fairly good social
nature of their occupation.
^

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal,

art.

Agarwal.

11

O ecuPA TION
" It

197
1.

has been mentioned," says Sir


is

Rislcy,' " that the

s-

Occupa-

garden

regarded as ahnost sacred, and the superstitious practices in vogue resemble those of the silk-worm breeder.

The
his

Bfirui will not

enter

it

until

clothes.

women

Animals found ceremonially unclean dare not enter within the gate.
sets foot inside,
it.

he has bathed and washed inside are driven out, while

Bnlhman never

judice against entering

It

has, however,

and old men have a prebeen known to


is

be used
'

for assignations."

The

betel-vine

the leaf of Piper

word being derived from the Malay alam vcttila, a plain leaf,' and coming to us through the Portuguese detre and bet/e. The leaf is called pan, and is eaten with the nut The vine needs of Areca catechu, called in Hindi supari. careful cultivation, the gardens having to be covered to keep off the heat of the sun, while liberal treatment with manure and irrigation is needed. The joints of the creepers are planted in February, and begin to supply leaves in about five
betel L., the

months' time.

When

the

first

creepers are stripped after a

period of nearly a year, they are cut off and fresh ones
appear, the plants being exhausted within a period of about

two years
growers,

after the first sowing.

garden

may

cover from

half an acre to an acre of land, and belongs to a

number of

who act in partnership, each owning so many lines of vines. The plain leaves are sold at from 2 annas to annas hundred, a or a higher rate when they are out of 4 season. Damoh, Ramtek and Bilahri are three of the bestknown centres of cultivation in the Central Provinces. The
Bilahri leaf
"
is

described in the Ain-i-Akbari as follows


is

The make
After

leaf called Bilahri

white and shining, and does not


It tastes best of all kinds.

the tongue harsh and hard.


it

away from the creeper, it turns white with some care after a month, or even after twenty days, when greater efforts are made." ^ For retail sale btdas
has been taken
are

prepared,

consisting

of a
lime,

rolled

betel-leaf

containing
a
clove.

areca-nut,

catechu

and

Musk and cardamoms


and

are

and fastened with sometimes added.

Tobacco

should be smoked after eating a bida according to the saying,


'

Tribes

Castes of Bengal, art.

Barui.
^

72, quoted in Crooke's Castes, art. Tamboli.

Tribes

and

Bloclimann,

Ain-i-Ahbari,

i.

p.

198
'

BARAI
young man without a
betel without tobacco are alike savourless.'

PART

11

Service without a patron, a

shield,

and

Bidas are
of the

sold at from two to four for a pice (farthing).


caste often retail them,
;

Women

and as many are good-looking they secure more custom they are also said to have an indifferEarly in the morning, when they open their ent reputation.
shops, they burn

some incense before

the

bamboo basket

in

which the leaves are kept, to propitiate Lakshmi, the goddess


of wealth.

BARHAI
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
4.
5.

2. 3.

Sircngih iifid /oca! distribution. Internal structure.

lieligion.

Social position.
Occupation.

Marriage customs.

6.

Barhai,

Sutar,

Kharadi,

Mistri. The occupational

i.

strength

The Barhais numbered nearly 1 1 0,000 caste of carpenters. persons in the Central Provinces and Berar in 191 i, or
about found
I

|^|!.'jribu^

tion.

in

150 persons.

The

caste

is

most numerous

in

Districts with
in

large towns, and

few carpenters are to be

and more advanced Hitherto such woodwork as the villagers wanted Districts. for agriculture has been made by the Lobar or blacksmith,
villages except in the richer

while the country cots, the only

wooden article of furniture in their houses, could be fashioned by their own hands or In the Mandla District the by the Gond woodcutter. Barhai caste counts only 300 persons, and about the same in Balaghat, in Drug only 47 persons, and in the fourteen Chhattisgarh Feudatory States, with a population of more The name than two millions, only some 800 persons.
Barhai
in
is

said to be from the Sanskrit

Vardhika and the


of the caste

root vardh, to cut.

Sutar

is

common name
is

the Maratha Districts, and

from Sutra-kara, one

who

works by string, or a maker of string. The allusion may be to the Barhai's use of string in planing or measuring
timber, or
it

may

possibly indicate a transfer of occupation,


first

the Sutars having

been mainly string-makers and afterwards abandoned this calling for that of the carpenter. The first wooden implements and articles of furniture may have been held together by string before nails came into use. Kharadi is literally a turner, one who turns woodwork on
199

BARHAI
a lathe, from khaidt, a lathe.
Mistri, a corruption

of the

English Mister, is an honorific title for master carpenters. The comparatively recent growth of the caste in these
Provinces
castes
is

shown by

its

subdivisions.

The

principal sub-

Hindustani Districts are the Pardeshi or foreigners, immigrants from northern India, and the Purbia other subcastes are the Sri or eastern, coming from Oudh Malvva, the Beradi from immigrants from or Gaur Malas We find also from Hyderabad. Mahure Berar, and the
of
the
;

and Teli Barhais, consisting of Jats and Two Telis (oil-pressers) who have taken to carpentering. Barhais, other caste-groups, the Chamar Barhais and Gondi
subcastes of Jat
are returned, but

these

are

not

at

present

included

in

the

merely of Chamars and remain in their own In the course of some generations, however, if the castes. cohesive social force of the caste system continues unabated, these groups may probably find admission into the Colonel Tod notes that the progeny of one Barhai caste. Makiar, a prince of the Jadon Rajpiat house of Jaisalmer, became carpenters, and were known centuries after as Makur Sutars. They were apparently considered illegitimate, as he states " Illegitimate children can never overcome this
Barhai
caste,

and

consist

Gonds who work

as

carpenters but

natural defect
classes

among

the Rajputs.

of
^

artisans

in

India

Thus we find among all some of royal but spurious


seems therefore and to a certain

descent."

The

internal structure of the caste


it is

to indicate that

largely of foreign origin

3.

Mar-

riage

customs.

degree of recent formation in these Provinces. The caste are also divided into exogamous septs named In some localities it is said that they have no after villages. surnames, and that people of the same surname septs, but only persons marry their daughters Well-to-do cannot intermarry.
before puberty and others

of the ceremony.

when they can afford Brahman priests are employed

the expense
at

weddings,

though on other occasions their services are occasionally disThe wedding ceremony is of the type prepensed with.
valent in the locality.

When

the wedding procession reaches the

the bride's village

it

halts near

temple of Maroti or

Hanuman.

Among

the Panchfd Barhais the bridegroom does


'

Kdjaslhdn,

ii.

p.

210.

II

RELIGION- SOCIAL POSITION


tics
is

201

not wear a marriage crown but


turban.

a bunch of flowers to his


entertained for five days.

The bridegroom's

party

most
her

In Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. localities it is said that a widow is forbidden to marry
first

husband's younger as well as his elder brother.


if

Among

the Pardeshi Barhais of Betul


first

a bachelor desires to

marry a widow he must

go through the ceremony with


.4.

a branch or twig of the gfi/ar tree.^

Viswakarma, the celestial architect, and venerate their trade implements on the Dasahra festival. They consider the sight of a mongoose and of a light-grey pigeon or dove as lucky omens. They burn the dead and throw the ashes into a river or tank, employing a Mahacaste worship

The

kdi-

^'"""

Brahman
castes.

to receive the gifts for the dead.


5.

In social status the Barhais rank with the higher artisan

Social

Brahmans take water from them in some localities. perhaps more especially in towns. In Betul for instance Hindustani Brahmans do not accept water from the rural Barhais. In Damoh where both the Barhai and Lobar are
menials, their status
is

Position.

village

said

to be

the same,

and

Brahmans do not take water from Lobars.


says that the Barhai
is

Mr. Nesfield a village servant and ranks with the

Kurmi, with whom his interests are so closely allied. But there seems no special reason why the interests of the carpenter should be more closely allied with the cultivator than those of any other village menial, and it may be offered
a surmise that carpentering as a distinct trade is of comparatively late origin, and was adopted by Kurmis, to which fact the connection noticed by Mr. Nesfield might be attributed hence the position of the Barhai among the castes from whom a Brahman will take water. In some
as
;

localities

well-to-do members of the caste have begun to


Occupa-

wear the sacred thread.


In the northern Districts and the cotton tract the Barhai works as a village menial. He makes and mends the plough and harrow {bakJiar) and other wooden implements of agriculture, and makes new ones when supplied with the wood. In Wardha he receives an annual contribution of 100 lbs. of grain from each cultivator. In Betul he gets Gj lbs. of grain
'

6.

^'"'

FicHS glonierata.

202

BARI

PART

For and other perquisites for each plough of four bullocks. making carts and building or repairing houses he must be At weddings the Barhai often supplies the separately paid. sacred marriage-post and is given from four annas to a rupee. At the Diwali festival he prepares a wooden peg about six inches long, and drives it into the cultivator's house inside the threshold, and receives half a pound to a pound of grain.
In cities
the

carpenters are
skill

rapidly

acquiring an

in-

creased degree of
extensive.
furniture

as

the

demand

for a

better class of

houses and furniture becomes continually greater and more

The

carpenters have been taught to

make English

by such institutions as the Friends' Mission of Hoshangabad and other missionaries and a Government technical school has now been opened at Nagpur, in which
;

over the Province are trained in the profession. wood-carving with any pretensions to excellence has hitherto been done in the Central Provinces, but the Jain temples at Saugor and Khurai contain some fair woodwork. good carpenter in towns can earn from i 2 annas to Rs. 1-8 a day, and both his earnings and prospects have greatly improved within recent years. Sherring remarks of " As artisans they exhibit little or no inventive the Barhais powers but in imitating the workmanship of others they are perhaps unsurpassed in the whole world. They are equally clever in working from designs and models." ^
all

boys from

Very

little

Bapi.

leaf-plates,

bered

caste of household servants and makers of belonging to northern India. The Baris num1200 persons in the Central Provinces in 191 i,

residing mainly in Jubbulpore and


:

Mandla. Sir H. Risley remarks of the caste ^ " Mr. Nesfield regards the Bari as merely an offshoot from a semi -savage tribe known as Banmanush and Musahar. He is said still to associate with them at times, and if the demand for leaf-plates and cups, owing to some temporary cause, such as a local fair or an unusual multitude of marriages, happens to become larger than he can at once supply, he gets them secretly made by his ruder kinsfolk and retails them at a higher rate, passing

'^

ni)tdit Castes,

Tribes

and

i. p. 316. Castes of Bengal, art. Bari.

11

nARf
off as his

203
strictest

them

those at least

own production. The who aspire to imitate the

IJrahmans,
life

self-denying

of

any other plates the ancient Indian hermit, never eat " If the above view is correct," than those made of leaves." " Sir II. Risley remarks, the Baris are a branch of a non-Aryan
off

tribe
social

who have been


system
in

given a fairly respectable position in the

consequence of the demand for leaf-plates, which are largely used by the highest as well as the lowest Instances of this sort, in which a non-Aryan or castes. mixed group is promoted on grounds of necessity or convenience to a higher status than their antecedents would entitle them to claim, are not unknown in other castes, and

must

have

occurred
the

frequently

in

outlying parts

of the

Aryan settlements were scanty and imperfectly supplied with the social apparatus demanded by
country, where the theory of ceremonial purity." the origin of the Bari from the

There

is

no reason why

Banmanush

(wild

man

of the

woods) or Musahar (mouse-eater), a forest tribe, as suggested by Mr. Nesfield from his observation of their mutual connecThe making of leaf-plates is an tion, should be questioned. avocation which may be considered naturally to pertain to the tribes frequenting jungles from which the leaves are and in the Central Provinces, though in the north gathered the Nai or barber ostensibly supplies the leaf-plates, probably buying the leaves and getting them made up by Gonds and
;

others, in the

Maratha

Districts the
their

Gond
by

himself does
this trade.

so,

and

many Gonds make

living

The

Maratha country are apparently less strict those of northern India, and do not object to eat off than
people of the
plates

avowedly the handiwork of Gonds. The fact that the Bari has been raised to the position of a pure caste, so that Brahmans will take water from his hands, is one among several instances of this elevation of the rank of the serving
castes for purposes of convenience.

The
:

caste themselves

have the following legend of their origin Once upon a time Parmeshwar ^ was offering rice milk to the spirits of his ancestors. In the course of this ceremony the performer has to present a gift known as Vikraya Dan, which cannot be
accepted by others without loss of position.
*

Parmeshwar

Vishnu.

204

BA SDE WA

part

offered the gift to various

Brahmans, but they all refused it. So he made a man of clay, and blew upon the image and gave it life, and the god then asked the man whom he had created to accept the gift which the Brahmans had refused. This man, who was the first Bari, agreed on condition that all men should drink with him and recognise his purity of Parmeshwar then told him to bring water in a cup, caste. And in and drank of it in the presence of all the castes. consequence of this all the Hindus will take water from the They also say that their first ancestor was hands of a Bari. named Sundar on account of his personal beauty but if so,
;

The he failed to bequeath this quality to his descendants. proper avocation of the Baris is, as already stated, the manufacture of the leaf-cups and plates used by all Hindus In the Central Provinces these are made from at festivals. leaves of the mdJiul creeper {Bauhinia Vahlii), or the large

The caste also act as from the palds {Butea frondosa). personal servants, handing round water, lighting and carrying torches at marriages and other entertainments and on Some of them journeys, and performing other functions. Their women act as maids to have taken to agriculture. high-caste Hindu ladies, and as they are always about the curious custom zenana, are liable to lose their virtue. prevails in Marwar on the birth of an heir to the throne. An impression of the child's foot is taken by a Bari on

cloth covered with saffron, and


chiefs,

is

exhibited to the native

who make him


of
great
is,

rich

presents.^

The

Baris have the

reputation
master.'

fidelity
'

to

their

employers,

and

saying about them

The

Bari will die fighting for his

Basdewa,- Wasudeo, Harbola, Kaparia, Jag-a, Kapdi. wandering beggar caste of mixed origin, who also The call themselves Sanadhya or Sanaurhia Brahmans. Basdewas trace their origin to Wasudeo, the father of Krishna, and the term Basdewa is a corruption of Wasudeo or Wasudeva. Kaparia is the name they bear in the

'

Sherring,

Tribes
is

and

Castes,

i.

pj).
^

403, 404. This article

compiled

from

W. N. Maw, Deputy Commissioner, Damoh, and Murlidhar, MunsiCr of Kliurai in Saugor.


papers by Mr.

II

BASDEWA

205

Antcrvcd or country between the Ganges and Jumna, whence Kaparia has been derived from kapra, cloth, owing to the custom of the Basdewas of having several dresses, which they change rapidly like the Bahrupia, making themselves up in different characters as a show. Harbola is an occupational term, applied to a class of Basdewas who climb trees in the early morning and thence
they claim to have come.
vociferate praises of the deity in a loud voice.
is
1

The name

from Haj\ God, and bolna^ to speak. As the larbolas wake people up in the morning they are also called The number of ]?asdewas in the Central Jaga or Awakener. Provinces and Berar in 191 i was 2500, and they are found
derived
principally in the northern
Districts

and

in

Chhattlsgarh.

They have several territorial subcastes, as Gangaputri or those who dwell on the banks of the Ganges Khaltia or Deswari, those who belong to the Central Provinces Parauha,
;
;

from para, a male buffalo calf, being the dealers in buffaloes Harbola or those who climb trees and sing the praises of
;

God and Wasudeo, the dwellers in the Maratha Districts who marry only among themselves. The names of the
;

exogamous divisions are very varied, some being taken from Brahman gotras and Rajput septs, while others are the names of villages, or nicknames, or derived from animals and plants. It may be concluded from these names that the Basdewas are a mixed occupational group recruited from
high and low castes, though they themselves say that they do not admit any outsiders except Brahmans into the

community.
the

In

connection with

Bombay the Wasudevas have a special Kumhars or potters, whom they address by
^

term of kdka or paternal uncle, and at whose houses they lodge on their travels, presenting their host with the two halves of a cocoanut. The caste do not observe celibacy. price of Rs. 25 has usually tO; be given for a bride, and a

A
a

Brahman
sacred

is

employed

to

conclusion of this the


thread,

Brahman

which
is

perform the ceremony. At the invests the bridegroom with he thereafter continues to wear.
are

Widow

marriage

permitted, and widows

commonly

married to widowers. Divorce is also permitted. When a man's wife dies he shaves his moustache and beard, if any,
^

Bombay

Gazetteer, xvii. p.

io8.

2o6
in

BASDEIVA

part

mourning and a fatlier likewise for a daughter-in-law this is somewhat peculiar, as other Hindus do not shave The Basdewas the moustache for a wife or daughter-in-law. In the Maratha Districts they are wandering mendicants. wear a plume of peacock's feathers, which they say was In Saugor and given to them as a badge by Krishna.
;

instead of this they carry during the period from Dasahra to the end of Magh or from September to January It is a brass vessel called inatuk bound on their heads. surmounted by a brass cone and adorned with mango-leaves, cowries and a piece of red cloth, and with figures of Rama Their stock-in-trade for begging consists of and Lakshman. two kartdls or wooden clappers which are struck against each other gimngrus or jingling ornaments for the feet, worn when dancing and a paijna or kind of rattle, consisting of two semicircular iron wires bound at each end to a this is simply piece of wood with rings slung on to them shaken in the hand and gives out a sound from the movement
;
; ;

Damoh

of the

They worship all these rings against the wires. implements as well as their beggar's wallet on the JanamAshtami or Krishna's birthday, the Dasahra, and the full moon They rise early and beg only in the of Magh (January). morning from about four till eight, and sing songs in praise Sarwan was a son renowned for his of Sarwan and Karan. he maintained and did service to his old blind filial piety parents to the end of their lives, much against the will of his wife, and was proof against all her machinations to induce him to abandon them. Karan was a proverbially chariHis table king, and all his family had the same virtue. wife gave away daily rice and pulse to those who required it, his daughter gave them clothes, his son distributed cows
;

as alms
self

The king himand his daughter-in-law cocoanuts. gave only gold, and it is related of him that he was accustomed to expend a maund and a quarter weight of gold in alms-giving before he washed himself and paid his morning devotions. Therefore the Basdewas sing that he
'^

who
and

gives early in the

morning acquires the merit of Karan

time affords the requisite opportunity to anybody who may be desirous of emulating the
their presence at this
1

About lOO

lbs.

M
kinc^.
'

HAS /)E IV
At
the end of every cou[)let they cry
'

207 Jai

Gan^a

'

or

liar Ganga,' invoking^ the Ganges.

The Harbolas have each


villages

a beat of a certain of

number of
Their
jjcrson

which must not be infringed by the others.


is

method
in

to ascertain

the

name

some well-to-do

the village.

morning before
or wearied

sunrise,

This done, they climb a tree in the early and continue chanting his praises in

is sufficiently flattered by their eulogies by their importunity to throw down a present of a few pice under the tree, which the Harbola, descending, The Basdewas of the northern Districts are appropriates. now commonly engaged in the trade of buying and selling They take the young male calves from Saugor buffaloes. and Damoh to Chhattisgarh, and there retail them at a profit for rice cultivation, driving them in large herds along the For the capital which they have to borrow to make road.

a loud voice until he

their purchases, they are charged very high rates of interest.

The Basdewas have

here a special veneration for the buffalo

as the animal from which they

make

their livelihood,

and

they object strongly to the calves being taken to be tied out as baits for tiger, refusing, it is said, to accept payment if the

Their social status is not high, and be killed. none but the lowest castes will take food from their hands. They eat flesh and drink liquor, but abstain from pork, fowls Some of the caste have given up animal food. and beef.
calf should

BASOR
LIST OF
1

PARAGRAPHS
4.
5.

Numbers and
Subdivisions.

distrlbuiion.

Marriage.
Religion

2. 3.

Caste traditions.

and social

status.

6.

Occupation.

Bupud. The occupational two first names being Hindi and the last the term used in the Maratha Districts. The cognate Uriya caste is called Kandra and the Telugu one The Basors numbered 53,000 persons in the Medara. About half the total Central Provinces and Berar in 191 i. number reside in the Saugor, Damoh and Jubbulpore The word Basor is a corruption of Bansphor, a Districts. Dhulia, from dholi, a drum, means a breaker of bamboos.'
Basop,^ Bansphop,

Dhulia,

caste of bamboo-workers, the

'

musician.

The who
that

caste trace their origin

from Raja Benu or Venu


It
is

ruled at Singorgarh in

Damoh.

related of

him

he was so pious that he raised no taxes from his subjects, but earned his livelihood by making and selling bamboo fans. He could of course keep no army, but he knew magic, and when he broke his fan the army of the

enemy broke up

Venu is a Sanskrit word in unison. meaning bamboo. But a mythological Sanskrit king called Vena is mentioned in the Puranas, from whom for his sins was born the first Nishada, the lowest of human beings, and

Manu ^
'

states

that

the

bamboo -worker
Ram
;

is

the

issue

of a

Compiled from papers by Mr.

Lai, B.A., De])Uty Inspector of Schools,

Betul Mr. Keshava Rao, Headmaster, Middle School, Seoni and Bapu Gulab
;

Saugor; Mr. Vishnu Gangadhar Gadgil, Mr. Devi Tahslldar, Narsinghpur ; Mr. Kanhya Dayal, Tahsildar, liatta
;

Singh, Superintendent,
Betul.
^

Land Records,

Chapter

x.

37,

and Shudra Kani-

Lal, B. A.,

Deputy Inspector

of Schools,

lakar, p. 284.

I'ART

II

SUIiDIVlSJONS
'

209

Nishada or Chandal father and a Vaidcha


that the local story

mother.

So

may

be a corruption of the Brahmanical

tradition. Another legend relates that in the beginning there were no bamboos, and the first Basor took the serpent which Siva wore round his neck and going to a hill planted it with its head in the ground, bamboo at once sprang up on the spot, and from this the liasor made the first winnowing fan. And the snake-like root of the bamboo, which no doubt suggested the story to its composer, is now adduced in proof

of

it.
3'^"j

The Basors of the northern Districts are divided into a number of subcastes, the principal of which are the Purania or Juthia, who perhaps represent the oldest section, Purania
:

'^''^'"

being from purdna old


eat

the

leavings

of

others

they are called Juthia because they the Barmaiya or Malaiya,


;
;

apparently a territorial group the Deshwari or Bundelkhandi who reside in the desJi or native place of Bundel-

khand the Gudha or Gurha, the name being derived by some from giida a pigsty the Dumar or Dom Basors the Dhubela, perhaps from the Dhobi caste and the Dharkar. Two or three of the above names appear to be those of
;

other low castes from which the Basor caste


recruited, perhaps at times
for

may have been


existed
to

when a strong demand

bamboo-workers.

The Buruds do not appear

be

numerous to have subcastes. But they include a few Telenga Buruds who are really Medaras, and the caste proper are therefore sometimes known as Maratha Buruds to distinguish them from these. The caste has numerous bainks or exogamous groups or septs, the names of which may chiefly be classified as territorial and totemistic. Among the former are Mahobia, from the town of Mahoba Sirmaiya, from Sirmau Orahia, from Orai, the battlefield of the Banaphar generals, Alha and Udal Tikarahia from Tikari, and so on. The totemistic septs include the Sanpero from sdnp a snake, the Mangrelo from mangra a crocodile, the Morya from inor a peacock, the Titya from the titehri bird and the Sarkia from sarki or red ochre, all of which worship their respective totems. The Katarya or dagger sept worship a real or painted dagger at their marriage, and the Kemia, a branch
sufficiently
;
; ; ' '

Vaideha was the child of


II

Vaishya father and a Brahman mother.

VOL.

2IO

BASOR
kem
tree {Stephegyne parvifolid).

PART

of the

The Bandrelo, from

bandar^ worship a
are

painted
as

named

after castes,

monkey. One or two groups Bamhnelo from Brahman and


Rajput,
thus
indicating
that
families.

Bargujaria

from

Bargujar

members

of these castes

became Basors and founded

One sept is called Marha from Marhai, the goddess of cholera, and the members worship a picture of the goddess drawn in The name of the Kulhantia sept means somersault, black. turn a somersault before worshipping their gods. these and
So strong
groups
is

the totemistic idea that


objects

some of the
names.

territorial

worship

with

similar

Thus the

Mahobia group, whose name is undoubtedly derived from the town of Mahoba, have adopted the mahua tree as their
totem, and digging a small hole in the ground place in
little
it

water and the liquor made from mahua flowers, and This represents the process of distillation of worship it.
Similarly, the Orahia group, who derive country liquor. their name from the town of Orai, now worship the urai or khaskhas grass, and the Tikarahia from Tikari worship a
tikli or glass spangle.

4.

Mars^^X.

The marriage

of persons belonging to the

same haink

or

nage.

The age of and also that of first cousins is forbidden. marriage is settled by convenience, and no stigma attaches Intrigues of unto its postponement beyond adolescence. married girls with men of their own or any higher caste are The ceremony follows the standard usually overlooked. Hindi and Marathi forms, and presents no special features. A bride-price called chdri, amounting to seven or eight
rupees,
is

usually paid.

In Betul the practice of lanijhana,

or

marrying

for a term of years before Widowsometimes followed. marriage is permitted, and the widow is expected to wed her late husband's younger brother. The Basors are musicians by profession, but in Betul the narsingha, a peculiar kind of crooked trumpet, is the only implement which may be played at the marriage of a widow. A woman marrying a second

serving

the

father-in-law
is

his

daughter,

time

the property of her late husband, without issue and there are no near relatives of her husband to take it. Divorce is effected by the breaking
forfeits all interest in
is

unless she

of the woman's bangles in public.

If obtained

by the

wife,

II

RELIGION AND

SOCIAr.

STATUS

211

she must repay to her first husband the expenditure incurred by him for her marriage when she takes a second, liut the acceptance of this payment is considered derogatory and the husband refuses it unless he is poor. The liasors worship the ordinary Hindu deities and also ghosts and spirits. Like the other low castes they entertain
a special veneration for Devi.
spirits

5.

Reii-

focfaf"
status.

They

profess to exorcise evil

and the evil eye, and to cure other disorders and diseases through the agency of their incantations and the goblins who do their bidding. They burn their dead when they can afford it and otherwise bury them, placing the corpse in the grave with its head to the north. The body of a woman is wrapped in a red shroud and that of a man in a white one. They observe mourning for a period of three to ten days, but in Jubbulpore it always ends with the fortnight in which the death takes place so that a person dying on the 15 th or 30th of the month is mourned only for one day. They
;

eat almost every kind of food, including beef, pork, fowls,

and the leavings of others, but abjure crocodiles, monkeys, snakes and rats. Many of them have now given up eating cow's flesh in deference to Hindu feeling. They will take food from almost any caste except sweepers, and one or two others, as Joshi and Jasondhi, towards whom for some unexplained reason they entertain a special aversion. They will admit outsiders belonging to any caste from whom they can take food into the community. They are generally considered as impure, and live outside the village, and their touch conveys pollution, more especially in the Maratha Districts. The ordinary village menials, as the barber and washerman, will not work for them, and services of this As, nature are performed by men of their own community. however, their occupation is not in itself unclean, they rank above sweepers, Chamars and Dhobis. Temporary exclusion from caste is imposed for the usual offences, and the almost
liquor

invariable penalty for readmission


fellows.

is

a feast to the casteconvicted

person, male or female,

who has been


is

of adultery must have the head shaved, and

then seated in the centre of the caste-fellows and pelted by them with the leavings of their food. Basor women are not permitted to wear nose-rings on pain of exclusion from caste.

212
6.

BEDAR
The
trade of the Basors

PART

Occupa-

^'-

is a very essential one to the community. They make numerous kinds of baskets, among which may be mentioned the chujika, a very small one, the tokni, a basket of middle size, and the iokna,

agricultural

a very large one.


lining of matting for
is

The dauri
washing
in

is

a special basket with a

rice in a stream.

The jhdnpi
;

a round basket with a cover for holding clothes

the

which girls keep dolls and the Other bilahra a still smaller one for holding betel-leaf. articles made from bamboo-bark are the chalni or sieve, the
tipanna a small

one

khunkhwia

or rattle, the bdnsuri or

wooden

flute,

the bijna

or fan, and the supa or winnowing-fan.

All grain

is

cleaned

with the help of the supa both on the threshing-floor and in the house before consumption, and a child is always laid in

one as soon as it is born. In towns the Basors make the bamboo matting which is so much used. The only implement they employ is the bdnka, a heavy curved knife, with The bdnka is duly which all the above articles are made. worshipped at the Diwali festival. The Basors are also the village musicians, and a band of three or four of them play Some of them at weddings and on other festive occasions. work as pig-breeders and others are village watchmen. The

women
will

often act as midwives.

One

subcaste, the

Dumar,

do scavenger's work, but they never take employment as saises, because the touch of horse-dung is considered as a pollution, entailing temporary excommunication from caste,
BedaP.^
J.Q

r.

General

Small castc of about

500

persons, belonging

notice.

^j^qI^^

Khandcsh and Hyderabad.

Their ancestors were

apparently recruited from the different Maratha and when the Pindaris were suppressed they obtained or were awarded land in the localities where they now reside, and took to cultivation. The more respectable Bedars say that their ancestors were Tirole Kunbis, but when Tipu Sultan invaded the Carnatic he took many of them prisoners and ordered them to become Muhammadans. In order to please him they took food with Muhammadans,
J^indaris,

castes,

1 Based on a paper by Rao Sahib Dhonduji, retired Inspector of Police, Akola, and information collected by

Mr. Adiiriim Chaudhri of the Gazetteer


office.

II

SUIiDJVJSIONS
this

AND MARRIAC.E CUSTOMS


i)ut

213
until

and on

account the Kunbis

them out of caste

But as there were a lar^^e number of them, they did not do this, and have remained a separate caste. The real derivation of the name is unknown, but the caste say that it is be-dar or without fear,' and was i^iven to them on account of their bravery. They have now obtained a warrant from the descendant of Shankar Acharya, or the high priest of Sivite Hindus, permitting them to describe themselves as Put Kunbi or purified Kunbi.^ The community is clearly of a most mixed nature, as there are also Dher or Mahar Bedars. They refuse to take food from other Mahars and consider themselves defiled by their touch.
they should purify themselves.
'

The
and

social position of the caste also presents

some

peculiar

features.
police,

Several of them have taken service in the

army
;

and have

risen to the rank of native officer

and
is

Rao Sahib Dhonduji, a prominent member of the


Raichur,
officials

retired
caste.

Inspector of Police,

The Raja

of Surpur, near

is also said to be a Bedar, while others are ministerial occupying a respectable position. Yet of the Bedars generally it is said that they cannot draw water freely from the public wells, and in Nasik Bedar constables are not considered suitable for ordinary duty, as people object to their entering houses. The caste must therefore apparently have higher and lower groups, differing considerably in position. They have three subdivisions, the Maratha, Telugu and

2.

Sub-

Kande

Bedars.

also Marathi.

exogamous sections are Nevertheless they retain one or two northern


of their

The names

anT'"^
marriage
^^^ "^^'

presumably acquired from association with the Pindaris. Their women do not tuck the body-cloth in behind the waist, but draw it over the right shoulder. They wear the choli or Hindustani breast-cloth tied in front, and have a hooped silver ornament on the top of the head, which is known as dJwra. They eat goats, fowls and the flesh of the wild pig, and drink liquor, and will take food from a Kunbi or a Phulmali, and pay little heed to the rules of social impurity. But Hindustani Brahmans act as their
customs,
priests.

Before a wedding they


as a god, the
'

call

ceremony being known

Brahman and worship him as Deo Brahman. The


p.

Mr. Marten's C.P. Census Report (19 11),

212.

214

BEDAR

PART

II

Brahman then cooks food in the house of his host. On the same occasion a person specially nominated by the Brahman, and known as Deokia, fetches an earthen vessel from the
potter,
rice,

and this is worshipped with offerings of turmeric and and a cotton thread is tied round it. Formerly it is said they worshipped the spent bullets picked up after a battle, and especially any which had been extracted from the

body of a wounded person.


3.

Funeral

rites.

a man is about to die they take him down from and lay him on the ground with his head in the lap The dead are buried, a person of importance of a relative.
his cot

When

being carried to the grave in a sitting posture, while others A woman is buried in are laid out in the ordinary manner.
a green cloth and a breast-cloth.

When the corpse has been prepared for the funeral they take some liquor, and after a few drops have been poured into the mouth of the corpse the
assembled persons drink the rest. While following to the grave they beat drums and play on musical instruments and sing religious songs and if a man dies during the night, since he is not buried till the morning, they sit in the house playing and singing for the remaining hours of darkness. The object of this custom must presumably be to keep away evil spirits. After the funeral each man places a leafy branch of some tree or shrub on the grave, and on the thirteenth day they put food before a cow and also throw some on to the roof of the house as a portion for the crows.
;

BELDAR
list of
1.

paragraphs
4.
5.

2.

General notice. Belddrs of the nortitern Districts.

Other ChJiattlsgarhi Belddrs.

MunurwCir
Vaddar.
Pdthrot.

a7td Telenga.

6.
7.
8.

3.

Odias of ChhattlsgarJi.

Takdri.

Beldar/ Od, Sonkar, Raj, Larhia, Karigar, Matkuda, Chunkar, Munurwar, Thapatkari, Vaddar, Pathrot, The term Beldar is generically applied to a number Takari. occupational groups of more or less diverse origin, who of masons work as or navvies, build the earthen embankments of tanks or fields, carry lime and bricks and in former times refined salt. Beldar means one who carries a bel^ a hoe or mattock. In 191 i a total of 25,000 Beldars were returned from the Central Provinces, being most numerous in the Nimar, Wardha, Nagpur, Chanda and Raipur districts. The Nunia, Murha and Sansia (Uriya) castes, which have

been treated in separate articles, are also frequently known as Beldar, and cannot be clearly distinguished from the main If they are all classed together the total of the earthcaste. and stone- working castes comes to 35,000 persons. It is probable that the bulk of the Beldars and allied castes are derived from the non-Aryan tribes. The Murhas or navvies of the northern Districts appear to be an offshoot of the Bind tribe the people known as Matkuda (earthdigger) are usually Gonds or Pardhans the Sansias and Larhias or Uriyas of Chhattlsgarh and the Uriya country seem to have originated from the Kol, Bhuiya and Oraon
;

1 This article is based on papers by Mr. A. K. Smith, C.S., Mr. Khande Rao, Superintendent of Land Records,

Raipur, and Munshi Kanhiya Lai, of the Gazetteer office.

215

2l6
tribes,

BELDAR

the Kols especially making excellent diggers and masons the Oddes or Vaddars of Madras are a' very low caste, and some of their customs point to a similar origin, though the Munurwar masons of Chanda appear to have
;

belonged originally to the Kapu caste of cultivators. The term Raj, which is also used for the Beldars in the northern Districts, has the distinctive meaning of a mason, while Chunkar signifies a lime-burner. The Sonkars were formerly occupied in Saugor in carrying lime, bricks and earth on donkeys, but they have now abandoned this calling in Chhattlsgarh and taken to growing vegetables, and have been given a short separate notice. In Hoshangabad some

Muhammadan
engaged

Beldars are now also found. The Beldars of Saugor say that their
in refining salt

ancestors were

A divine saint named came down on earth, and while cooking his food mixed some saline soil with it. The bread tasted much better in consequence, and he made the earth
from earth.

Nona

Rlshi

{non,

salt)

into a ball or goli


salt

from

it,

and taught his followers to extract the whence their descendants are known as Goli
of the ordinary
is

Beldars.

accompanied by drums, fireworks and, if means permit, a nautch-girl. If a man puts away his wife without adequate cause the caste panchdyat may compel him to support her so long as she remains of good conduct. The party seeking a divorce, whether husband or wife, has to pay Rs. y to the caste committee and the other partner Rs. 3, irrespective of where the blame rests, and each remains out of caste until he or
low-caste type.

The customs of these Beldars are The wedding procession

she pays.
their

These Beldars will not take food from any caste but own, and will not take water from a Brahman, though they will accept it from Kurmis, Gujars and similar castes. Sir H. Risley notes that their women always remove earth
in

baskets on the head.


in

"

The Beldars regard

this

mode

of

carrying earth as distinctive of themselves, and will on no

account transport
notorious for their
witness)
left

it

baskets slung from the shoulders.


paid

They work very hard when


skill

by the

piece,

and are

manipulating the pillars {sdkhi^ to mark work done, so as to exaggerate the


in

on I A s
lake
at

oh~

ciiUA

rise A i<ii

On one occasion while working for mc on a Govindpur, in the north of the Manbhum District, a number of l^eldars transplanted an entire pillar during the night and claimed payment for several thousand
measurement.
large
feet of

carried

The fraud was most skilfully imaginary earthwork. The out, and was only detected by accident." ^
in their dealings,

Beldars are often dishonest

and

will

take

large advances for a tank or embankment, and then abscond During the open with the money without doing the work.

season parties of the caste travel about

work, their furniture


closely woven,
set

camp looking for They carry being loaded on donkeys.


in

grain in earthen pots encased in bags of netting, neatly and

and grind their wheat daily in a small mill on a goat-skin. Butter is made in one of their pots with a churning-stick, consisting of a cogged wheel fixed on to the end of a wooden rod. The Beldars of ChhattTsgarh are divided into the Odia Karigar or Uriya, Larhia, Kuchbandhia, Matkuda and groups. Uriya and Larhia are local names, applied to residents of the Uriya country and ChhattTsgarh respectively. Odia is the name of a low Madras caste of masons, but Karigar whether it is a corruption of Uriya is not clear. means a workman, and Kuchbandhia is the name of a
separate caste,

3.

Odias of
j^^

who make loom-combs

for

weavers.

The

They say that when Odias pretend to be fallen Rajputs. Indra stole the sacrificial horse of Raja Sagar and kept it in the underworld, the Raja's thousand sons dug great holes through the earth to get it. Finally they arrived at the underworld and were all reduced to ashes by the Rishi Their ghosts besought him Kapil Muni, who dwelt there. for life, and he said that their descendants should always continue to dig holes in the earth, which would be used as tanks and that whenever a tank was dug by them, and its marriage celebrated with a sacrifice, the savour of the sacrifice would descend to the ghosts and would afford them sustenance. The Odias say that they are the descendants of the Raja's sons, and unless a tank is dug and its marriage celebrated by them it remains impure. These Odias have tutelary in Rewah their deity State, and at his shrine is
;

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal, art. Beldar.

2l8

BELDAR

PART

flag which none but an Odia of genuine descent from Raja Sagar's sons can touch without some injury befalling him. If any Beldar therefore claims to belong to their caste they call on him to touch the flag, and if he does so with impunity they acknowledge him as a brother. The other groups of Chhattisgarhi Beldars are of lower status, and clearly derived from the non-Aryan tribes. They eat pigs, and at intervals of two or three years they celebrate the worship of Gosain Deo with a sacrifice of pigs,

the deity being apparently a deified ascetic or mendicant.

Dhlmars, Gonds, and all other castes and consume the meat together after the fashion of the rice at Jagannath's temple, which all castes may eat together without becoming impure. These Beldars use asses for the transport of their bricks and stones, and on the Diwali day they place a lamp before the ass and pay reverence to it. They say that at their marriages a bride-price of Rs. loo or Rs. 200 must always be paid, but they are allowed to give one or two donkeys and value them at Rs. 50 apiece. They make grindstones {chakki), combs for straightening the threads on the loom, and frames for stretching the threads. These frames are called dongi, and are made either wholly or partly from the horns of animals, a fact which no doubt
this occasion the

On

which eat

pig's flesh join in the sacrifice,

renders them impure.

In

Chanda the

principal castes of stone-workers are the

Telengas (Telugus),

who

are

also

known

as

Thapatkari

(tapper or chiseller), Telenga

Kunbi and Munurwar.

They

occupy a higher position than the ordinary Beldar, and Kunbis will take water from them and sometimes food. They say that they came into Chanda from the Telugu country along the Godavari and Pranhita rivers to build the great wall of Chanda and the palaces and tombs of the Gond kings. There is no reason to doubt that the Munurwars are a branch of the Kapu cultivating caste of the Telugu country. Mr. A. K. Smith states that they refuse to eat the flesh of an animal which has been skinned by a Mahar, a Chamar, or a Gond the Kunbis and Marathas also consider flesh touched by a Mahar or Chamar to be impure, but do not object to a Gond. Like the Berar
;

II

VAPDAK
rite

219

Kuiibis, the Telengas prefer that an animal should be killed

by the

of haldl as practised by
is

Muhamnaadan
haldl
is

butchers.

The

sacrificial slaughter,

no doubt and the killing of the animal is legitiThe mised even though by the ritual of a foreign religion. Thapatkaris appear to be a separate group, and their original profession was to collect and retail jungle fruits and roots Though the majority have having medicinal properties. become stone- and earth-workers some of them still do this. The Vaddars or Wadewars are a branch of the Odde They are almost an impure caste, and a caste of Madras.
reason
that

the

method of

6.

Vaddar.

section

of

them are

professional criminals.
left

Their

women

wear glass bangles only on the

arm, those on the right

arm being made

This rule has no of brass or other metal. doubt been introduced because glass bangles would get broken when they were supporting loads on the head. The men often wear an iron bangle on the left wrist, Mr. Thurston which they say keeps off the lightning. states that " Women who have had seven husbands are much respected among the Oddes, and their blessing on They" work in gangs on a bridal pair is greatly prized. contract, and every one, except very old and very young,
shares
in

the

labour.

The women

carry

the

earth

in

baskets, while the are usually tied


fashion, from the

men

use the pick and spade.

immorality is house to house before she

up in cloths, which are boughs of trees. A woman found guilty of said to have to carry a basketful of earth from
is

The babies suspended, hammock-

readmitted to the caste.

The

stone-cutting Vaddars are the principal criminals, and

by going

about under the pretence of mending grindstones they obtain much useful information as to the houses to be looted or parties of travellers to be attacked. In committing a highway robbery or dacoity they are always armed with stout sticks." ^ In Berar besides the regular Beldars two castes of stoneworkers are found, the Pathrawats or Pathrots (stone-breakers) and the Takaris, who should perhaps be classed as separate castes. Both make and sharpen millstones and grindstones, and they are probably only occupational groups of recent The Takaris are connected with the Pardhi caste formation.
1

7.

Pathrot.

The Castes and Tribes of Southern India,

art.

Odde.

220

BERTA

PART

may be a branch of them. The social customs of the Pathrots resemble those " They will take cooked food from a Sutar of the Kunbis. or a Kumbhar. Imprisonment, the killing of a cow or
of professional hunters and fowlers and

man with a woman of another caste punished by temporary outcasting, readmission involving a fine of Rs. 4 or Rs. 5. Their chief deity is the Devi of Tuljapur and their chief festival Dasahra the implements
criminal intimacy of a
is
;

of the caste are worshipped twice a year, on Gudhi

Padwa

and Diwali. Women are tattooed with a crescent between the eyebrows and dots on the right side of the nose, the right cheek, and the chin, and a basil plant or peacock is drawn on their wrists." ^
8.

Takari.

"

The Takaris

reset or rechisel.
for grinding corn,

take their name from the verb tdkne, to They mend the handmills {chakkis) used

an occupation which

is

sometimes shared
Takari's avocation

with them by the Langoti Pardhis.


for

The

of chiselling grindstones gives him excellent opportunities

examining the interior economy of houses, and the posiboxes and cupboards, and for gauging the wealth of the inmates. They are the most inveterate house-breakers and dangerous criminals. A form of crime favoured by
tion of

the Takari, in
that

common

with

many

other criminal classes,

is

of decoying into a secluded spot outside the village

the would-be receiver of stolen property and robbing him


ot his cash
it." ^

a trick which carries a

wholesome lesson with

which they chip the grindstones furnishes, as stated by Mr. D. A. Smyth, D.S.P., an excellent implement for breaking a hole through the mud wall
chisel

The

with

of a house.
Beria, Bedia.
[Bibliography. Sir H. Risley's Tribes and Castes of Bengal ; Rajendra Lai Mitra in Memoirs, Anthropological Society of London, iii. p. 122; Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes of the A^orth- IVestern Provinces and Oudh ; Mr. Kennedy's Criminal Classes of the Bombay Presidency ; Major Gunthorpe's Criminal Tribes ; Mr. Gayer's Lectures on some Criininal Tribes of the Central Provinces ; Colonel Sleeman's Report on the Badhak or Bdgri Dacoits.']
I.

nistori-

caste

of gipsies and thieves


Sansias.

who

are

closely con-

cai notice,

nccted with the

In

1891 they numbered 906


^

1 Akola District Gazetteer (Mr. C. Brown), pp. 132, 133.

Ai?vaoti District Gazetteer (Messrs.


p.

Nelson and Fitzgerald),

146.

II

BERIA
in

221

persons

the

Central
;

Provinces,
1

distributed

over

the

northern
classified

Districts

in

90 1

they

were

not

separately

that

" They say but were identified with the Nats. some generations ago two brothers resided in the

Bhartpur

territory, of

the other Mullanur.

Sansias and those of


are vagrants

whom one was named Sains Mul and The descendants of Sains Mul are the Mullanur the Berias or Kolhatis, who
profession, living in

and robbers by hereditary

tents or huts of matting, like Nats or other vagrant tribes,


their women in common without any marriage ceremonies or ties whatsoever. Among themselves or their relatives the Sansias or descendants of Sains Mul, they are

and having

called
cat,

The descendants of the brothers smoke together, and join in robberies, but never intermarry." So Colonel Sleeman wrote in 1849,
Dholi or Kolhati.
drink and

and other authorities agree on the close connection or identity of the Berias and Sansias of Central India. The Kolhatis belong mainly to the Deccan and are apparently a branch of the Berias, named after the Kolhdn or long pole with which they perform acrobatic feats. The Berias of Central India differ in many respects from those of Bengal. Here
Sir H, Risley considers Beria to be
'

the generic
'

name

of a

number of vagrant, gipsy-like groups and a full description of them has been given by Babu Rajendra Lai Mitra, who considers them to resemble the gipsies of Europe. " They are noted for a light, elastic, wiry make, very uncom;

mon

in

the people of this country.

In agility and hardness


are of a brownish colour,

they stand unrivalled.


like the

The men

bulk of Bengalis, but never black.

The women
;

are

complexion and generally well-formed some of them have considerable claims to beauty, and for a race so rude and primitive in their habits as the Berias, there is a sharpness in the features of their women which we see in no other aboriginal race in India. Like the gipsies of Europe they are noted for the symmetry of their limbs but their offensive habits, dirty clothing and filthy professions give them a repulsive appearance, which is heightened by the reputation they have of kidnapping children and frequenting burial-grounds and places of cremation. Familiar with the use of bows and arrows and great adepts in
of lighter
;
.

222

BERIA
game and
flesh of wild

PART

laying snares and traps, they are seldom without large supplies

of

animals of

all

kinds.

They keep
;

the dried bodies of a variety of birds for medical purposes

mongoose, squirrels and flying-foxes they eat with avidity as articles of luxury. Spirituous liquors and intoxicating drugs are indulged in to a large extent, and chiefs of clans assume the title of Bhangi or drinkers of hemp ibJidng) as a mark of honour. ... In lying, thieving and knavery the Beria is not a whit inferior to his brother gipsy of Europe. The Beria woman deals in charms for exorcising the devil and palmistry is her special vocation. She also carries with her a bundle of herbs and other real or pretended charms against sickness of body or mind and she is much sought after by village maidens for the sake of the philtre with which she restores to them their estranged
;

lovers

when absent friends They practise cupping with buffalo horns, pretend to extract worms from decayed teeth and are commonly employed as tattooers. At home the Beria woman makes mats of palm-leaves,
;

while she foretells the

date

will return

and the sex of unborn children.

while her lord

alone

cooks.

Beria
gipsies.

women

are even

more circumspect than European


not return before the jackal's cry
is is

If a wife does

heard

in the evening,

she

subject to severe punishment.

It is said that

faux pas
;

among
but
it is

her

own kindred

is

not considered reprehensible


caste."

certain that

no Berini has ever been known to be


This
last state-

at fault with

any one not of her own


a
little

ment
India
for

is

not
in

astonishing,

inasmuch as
is

in

Central

and

Bundelkhand Berni

a prostitute.

an equivalent term similar diversity of conjugal morality

has been noticed between the Bagris of northern India and


the Vaghris of Gujarat.^
2.

Criminal

tendencies

^^ Other rcspects also the Berias of Bengal appear to ^e morc respectable than the remainder of the caste, obtaini"g thcir livelihood
actually dishonest
are prostitutes
;

Centrai
Provinces,

by means which,

if

disreputable, are not

while in Central India the

women
and

Berias

and the

men
is

house-breakers

thieves.

These

latter are so closely

connected with the Sansias that


also applicable to the Berias.
on Badhak.

the account of that caste


'

See

article

11

SOCIAL CUSTOMS

223

Gayer states, tlic caste are expert houseand daring, and sometimes armed with swords They sew up stolen property in their bedand matchlocks. quilts and secrete it in the hollow legs of their sleeping-cots, and the women habitually conceal jewels and even coins in the natural passages of the body, in which they make special saos or receptacles by practice. The Beria women go about begging, and often break open the doors of unoccupied houses in the daytime and steal anything they can find.! Both Sansia and Beria women wear a laong or clove in the
In Jubbulporc, Mr.

breakers, bold

left nostril.

As

already stated, the

women

are professional prostitutes,

3.

Social

but these do not marry, and on arrival at maturity they choose the life which they prefer. Mr. Crooke states," however, that regular marriages seldom occur among them,

customs.

because nearly
able caste.

all

the

girls

are

reserved for prostitution,


fairly respect-

and the men keep concubines drawn from any

So

far is this
girl

the rule that in


is

some

localities if

man

marries a

of the tribe he obtain


in

put out of caste or

obliged to pay a fine to the tribal council.

This

last rule

does not seem


pore
^

to

the

Central

Provinces, but

marriages are uncommon.

In a colony of Berias in Jubbul-

numbering sixty families it was stated that only eight weddings could be remembered as having occurred in the

The boys therefore have to obtain wives as sometimes orphan girls from other castes are taken into the community, or any outsider is picked up. For a bride from the caste itself a sum of Rs. 100 is usually demanded, and the same has to be paid by a Beria man who takes a wife from the Nat or Kanjar castes, as is sometimes done. When a match is proposed they ask the expectant bridegroom how many thefts he has committed without detection and if his performances have been inadequate they refuse to give him the girl on the ground that he will be unable to support a wife. At the betrothal the boy's parents go to the girl's house, taking with them a potful of liquor round which a silver ring is placed and a
last fifty years.

best they can

Kennedy,
Crooke,

p.

247.
Beria.

from a note

by Mr.

K.

N.

Date,

2 ^

art.

Deputy Superintendent, Reformatory


School, Jubbulpore.

The

following particulars are taken

224
pig.

BERIA
The
ring
is

PART

II

given to the

girl

to her father, while the

liquor

and the head of the pig and the body of the pig

their birth

They consult Brahmans at provide a feast for the caste. Their principal deities and marriage ceremonies.
appear to be their ancestors,

whom

they worship on the

same day of the month and year as that on which their They make an offering of a pig to the death took place. goddess Dadaju or Devi before starting on their annual

Some rice is thrown into the animal's and the direction in which it turns its head is selected as the one divinely indicated for their route. Prostitution is naturally not regarded as any disgrace, and the women who have selected this profession mix on perfectly
predatory excursions.
ear before
it is

killed,

equal terms with those


fact,

who

are married.

They occupy,

in

of their

more independent position, as they dispose absolutely own earnings and property, and on their death it

devolves on their daughters or other female relatives, males

Among having no claim to it, in some localities at least. the children of married couples daughters inherit equally A prostitute is regarded as the head of the with sons.
Outsiders are family so far as her children are concerned. freely admitted into the caste on giving a feast to the

community.
give

In Saugor the
in

women

of the caste,
are

known

as
to

Berni, are the village dancing-girls, and

employed

performances
festival,

the

cold

weather, especially at the

Holi
called

where they dance the whole night through,

fortified

by continuous potations of liquor. This dance is rai, and is accompanied by most obscene songs and

gestures.

BHAINA
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
4.
5.

TJie

ifibe

derived

from
with

the

Marriage.
Religious superstitio7is.

Baigas.
2.

Closely

connected

the

6.

Admission

of outsiders

ajid

Kawars.
3.

caste offences.

Internal structure.

Totem ism.
primitive

7.

Social customs.

Bhaina.^

tribe
in

peculiar

to

the

Central

i-

The

Provinces and found principally


the adjoining area, that
is,

the Bilaspur District and

in

the wild tract of forest country

derived f'om the


^'^^^'

Satpura range and the south of the Chota Nagpur plateau. In 191 1 about 17,000 members of the The tribe is of mixed descent and tribe were returned. appears to have been derived principally from the Baigas and Kawars, having probably served as a city of refuge to persons expelled from these and other tribes and the lower Their connection with castes for irregular sexual relations. the Baigas is shown by the fact that in Mandla the Baigas have two subdivisions, which are known as Rai or RajBhaina, and Kath, or catechu-making Bhaina. The name therefore would appear to have originated with the Baiga tribe, A Bhaina is also not infrequently found to be employed in the office of village priest and magician, which goes by the name of Baiga in Bilaspur. And a Bhaina has the same reputation as a Baiga for sorcery, it being said

between

the

of

him
Mainhar
ki manjh Bhaina ki pang

1 This article is based principally on a paper by Panna Lai, Revenue Inspector, Bilaspur, and also on papers

by Mr. Syed Sher Ali, Naib-Tahsildar, Mr. Hira Lai and Mr. Aduram Chaudhri of the Gazetteer office.

VOL.

II

225

226

B HA INA
'

PART

is as deadly as the powdered having the property of stupefying fish when thrown into the water, so that they can easily be This reputation simply arises from the fact that in caught. his capacity of village priest the Bhaina performs the various magical devices which lay the ghosts of the dead, protect the village against tigers, ensure the prosperity of the crops But it is always the older residents of any and so on. locality who are employed by later comers in this office, because they are considered to have a more intimate acquaintAnd consequently we are ance with the local deities. entitled to assume that the Bhainas are older residents of

or

The magic
fruit,'

of a Bhaina

maiftkdr

this fruit

the country where they are found than their neighbours, the Gonds and Kawars. There is other evidence to the same
effect
;

for instance, the oldest forts in Bilaspur are attributed

to the Bhainas,

and a chief of
;

this tribe is

remembered

as

having ruled

in Bilaigarh

dominant in though the estate


the Gonds.

they are also said to have been Pendra, where they are still most numerous,
is

now
is

held

by a Kawar

and

it is

related

that the Bhainas were expelled from Phuljhar in Raipur

by

Phuljhar
its

believed to be a

Gond

State of long

standing, and the Raja of Raigarh and others claim to be

descended from

ruling family.

manuscript history of

the Phuljhar chiefs records that that country was held

by

a Bhaina king when the Gonds invaded it, coming from The Bhaina with his soldiers took refuge in a Chanda. But the secret hollow underground chamber with two exits. the Gonds by an old Gond woman, of this was betrayed to and they filled up the openings of the chamber with grass On this account the tribe and burnt the Bhainas to death. will not enter Phuljhar territory to this day, and say that it The Binjhwars are also said is death to a Bhaina to do so. to have been dominant in the hills to the east of Raipur District, and they too are a civilised branch of the Baigas.

And

in all

this

area the village priest


is,

is

commonly known
seems a legitimate

as Baiga, the deduction from which

as already stated, that


It

the Baigas were the oldest residents.^


conclusion, therefore, that prior
*

to
its

the immigration of the


application to the tribe, see also

article

For the meaning of the term Baiga and on Bhuiya.

11

CLOSELY CONNECTED W/77/


hill

/'//E

KA WARS

227

Gonds and Kawars, the ancient Baiga


over the whole
basin.

tribe was spread country east and north of the Mahanadi

The Bhainas are also closely connected with the Kawars, = cioseiy still own many large estates in the hills north of Bilas- wTtirthe pur. It is said that formerly the Bhainas and Kawars both Kawars.

who

common and intermarried, but at present, though the Bhainas still eat rice boiled in water from the Kawars, the But still, when a Kawar is celelatter do not reciprocate. brating a birth, marriage or death in his family, or when he takes in hand to make a tank, he will first give food to a Bhaina before his own caste-men eat. And it may safely be assumed that this is a recognition of the Bhaina's position as having once been lord of the land. A Kawar may still be admitted into the Bhaina community, and it is said that the reason of the rupture of the former equal relations between the two tribes was the disgust felt by the Kawars for the rude and uncouth behaviour of the Bhainas. For on one occasion a Kawar went to ask for a Bhaina girl in marriage, and, as the men of the family were away, the women undertook to entertain him. And as the Bhainas had no axes, the daughter proceeded to crack the sticks on her head for kindling a fire, and for grass she pulled out a wisp of thatch from the roof and broke it over her thigh, being unable to chop it. This so offended the delicate susceptibilities of the Kawar that he went away without waiting for his meal, and from that time the Kawars ceased to marry with the Bhainas. It seems possible that the story points to the period when the primitive Bhainas and Baigas did not know the use of iron and to the introduction of this metal by the later-coming Kawars and Gonds. It is further related that when a Kawar is going to make a ceremonial visit he likes always to take with him two or
ate in

three Bhainas,

who
fact.

are considered as his retainers, though

not being so in
is

This enhances his importance, and

it

also said that the stupidity of the Bhainas acts as a

foil,

through which the superior intelligence of the

Kawar

is

made

more apparent.

All these details point to the


first

clusion that the primitive Bhainas

same conheld the country and


Kawars, and bears

were supplanted by the more

civilised

228

BHAINA

PART

3.

Internal
:

structure

Totemism.

out the theory that the settlement of the Munda tribes was prior to those of the Dravidian family. The tribe has two subdivisions of a territorial nature, The Uriya Bhainas Laria or Chhattlsgarhi, and Uriya.

cooked without water from the Sawaras so that they have or Saonrs, and these also from them Two other subdivisions recorded probably intermarried. the former are the Jhalyara and Ghantyara or Ghatyara being so called because they live in jJidlas or leaf huts in the forest, and the latter, it is said, because they tie a glianta This, however, seems very imor bell to their doors. Another theory is that the word is derived from probable. ghdt^ a slope or descent, and refers to a method which the
will

accept food

tribe

have of tattooing themselves with a pattern of lines Or it is said to mean a low or despised as gJidt. The Jhalyara and Ghatyara divisions comprise section.

known

the less civilised portion of the tribe,


forests
;

who

still

live

in

the

and they are looked down on by the Uriya and The Laria sections, who belong to the open country. exogamous divisions of the tribe show clearly enough that the Bhainas, like other subject races, have quite failed to Among the names of their preserve any purity of blood. Ahera (cowherd), washerman), (a Dhobia are septs gots or Panka or Ganda) a Panika (from (gardener), Mallin Gond, to septs pay respect such of members The and others. which they are named after the caste any man belonging to

They also worship and avoid picking a quarrel with him. have also a number The tribe the family gods of this caste. plants. Such are or of totem septs, named after animals Nag the cobra, Bagh the tiger, Chitwa the leopard, Gidha the vulture, Besra the hawk, Bendra the monkey, Kok or Lodha the wild dog, Bataria the quail, Durgachhia the
black ant, and so on.
the animal
after

Members

of a sept will not injure

which it is named, and if they see the corpse of the animal or hear of its death, they throw away an earthen cooking -pot and bathe and shave themselves Members of the Baghchhal or as for one of the family. tiger sept will, however, join in a beat for tiger though they At weddings the Bhainas have a are reluctant to do so.
as

ceremony known

the goU-a worship.

The

bride's

father

II

MARRrACK
in clay
it

229

makes an image
sept and
places

of the bird or animal of the groom's

beside the marriage-post.


lighting a sacrificial

The
fire

bride-

groom worships the image,


it,

before

and offers to it the vermilion which he afterwards smears upon the forehead of the bride. At the bridegroom's house a similar image is made of the bride's totem, and on returning there after the wedding she worships this. Women
are often

tattooed

with

representations
it

of

their

totem

animal, and

men swear by
is

as their

most sacred

oath.

similar respect

paid to the inanimate objects after which

Thus members of the Gawad or named. and sept will not burn cowdung cakes for fuel those of the Mircha sept do not use chillies. One sept is named after the sun, and when an eclipse occurs these perform the same formal rites of mourning as the others do on the death of their totem animal. Some of the groups have two divisions, male and female, which practically rank as
certain septs are

cowdung

separate septs.

Instances of these are the

Nagbans Andura
;

and the Nagbans Mai or male and female cobra septs the Karsayal Singhara and Karsayal Mundi or stag and doe deer septs and the Baghchhal Andura and Baghchhal Mai or tiger and tigress septs. These may simply be instances of subdivisions arising owing to the boundaries of the sept having become too large for convenience. The tribe consider that a boy should be married when he has learnt to drive the plough, and a girl when she is able to manage her household affairs. When a father can afford a bride for his son, he and his relatives go to the
;

4.

Mar-

"^^^"

girl's village,

taking with them ten or fifteen cakes of bread

and a
the

bottle of liquor.
girl's

He

stays with
if

some

relative

and

sends to ask the


inquirer's

son.

liquor are sent over


spirit

as a pledge to
'

distributed
kJiobia or

the

he will give his daughter to If the former agrees, the bread and to him, and he drinks three cups of the of the betrothal, the remainder being company. This is known as Tatia
father
is

the opening of the door,' and

followed

some

days afterwards by a similar ceremonial which constitutes


the regular betrothal.
to

On

this

occasion the father agrees

marry his daughter within a year and demands the brideprice, which consists of rice, cloth, a goat and other articles,

230

B HA INA

PART

the total value being about five rupees.


fixed
for

date

is

next

the wedding, the

day selected being usually a

no date or month is forbidden. The wedding are then counted, and two knotted strings are given to each party, with a knot for each day up to that on which the anointings with oil and turmeric will commence at the bridegroom's and bride's houses. Every day one knot is untied at each house up to that on which the ceremonies begin, and thus the correct date for them is known. The invitations to the wedding
or Friday, but

Monday

number

of days to the

are given
to
all

tion

by distributing rice coloured yellow with turmeric members of the caste in the locality, with the intimathat the wedding procession will start on a certain day

and that they will be pleased to attend. During the four days that they are being anointed the bride and bridegroom dance at their respective houses to the accompaniment of drums and other instruments. For the wedding ceremony a number of Hindu rites have been adopted. The eldest sister of the bridegroom or bride is known as the sawdsin and her husband as the sawdsa, and these persons seem to
act as the representatives of the bridal couple throughout

the

The custom
is

marriage and to receive all presents on their behalf. is almost universal among the Hindus, and it

possible that they are intended to act as substitutes

and
the

to receive
bridal

any strokes of

evil

fortune which

may

befall

which they are peculiarly liable to it. The couple go round the sacred post, and afterwards the bridegroom daubs the bride's forehead with red lead seven times and covers her head with her cloth to show that she has become a married woman. After the wedding the bridegroom's parents say to him, " Now your parents have done everything they could for you, and you must manage your own house." The expenditure on an average wedding is about fifteen or twenty rupees. A widow is usually taken in marriage by her late husband's younger brother or Dewar, or by one of his relatives. If she marries an outsider, the Dewar realises twelve rupees from him in compensation for her loss. But if there is no Dewar this sum is not payable to her first husband's elder brother or her own father, because they could not have married her
pair at a season at

II

RELIGIOUS SUPERSririONS
to be injured

231

and hence arc not held


so.

by a stranger doing

man wishes to he must make a similar payment of twelve rupees to the first husband, together with a goat and liquor for The Bhainas bury or burn the dead the penal feast.
If a
is

woman

divorced and another

marry

her,

is Nakti Devi ^ or the For her ritual rice is placed on a square of the floor washed with cowdung, and ghl or preserved butter is poured on it and burnt. A hen is made to eat the rice, and then its head is cut off and laid on the square. The liver is burnt on the fire as an offering to the deity and the head and body of the animal are then eaten. After the death of a man a cock is offered to Nakti Devi and a hen after that of a woman. The fowl is made to pick rice first in the yard of the house, then on the threshold, and lastly inside the house. Thakur Deo is the deity of cultivation and is worshipped on the day before the autumn crops are sown. On this day all the men in the village go to his shrine taking a measure of rice and a ploughshare. At the same time the Baiga or village priest goes and bathes in the tank and is afterwards carried to the assembly on a man's shoulders. Here he makes an offering and repeats a charm, and then kneeling down strikes the earth seven times with the ploughshare, and sows five handfuls of rice, sprinkling water over the seed. After him the villagers walk seven times round the altar of the god in pairs, one man turning up the earth with the ploughshare and the other sowing and watering the seed. While this is going on the Baiga sits with his face covered with a piece of cloth, and at the end the villagers salute the Baiga and go home. When a man wishes to do an injury to another he makes an image of him with clay and daubs it with vermilion and worships it with an offering of a goat or a fowl and liquor. Then he prays the image that his enemy may die. Another way of injuring an enemy is to take rice coloured with turmeric, and after
'

according as their means permit. Their principal deit)^ in Bilaspur


Noseless Goddess.'

s-

i<t;i'-

suuerstitio"s.

was, of course, a common husband to cut off his wife's nose if he suspected her of being unfaithful to him. But whether the
1

It is or

application of the epithet to the goddess

practice for a

should
against

he taken to imply anything her moral character is not

known.

BHAINA
muttering charms throw
it

in

the

direction

in

which the

enemy

hves.

Outsiders are not usually admitted, but if a Bhaina forms a connection with a woman of another tribe, they will admit the children of such a union, though not the

For they say The seed is ours and what on which it was sown.' But a man of the Kawar tribe having intimacy with a Bhaina woman may be taken into the community. He must wait for three or four months after the matter becomes known and will beg for admission and offer to give the penalty feast. A day is fixed for this and invitations are sent to members of the caste. On the appointed day the women of the tribe cook rice, pulse, goat's flesh and urad cakes fried in oil, and in the evening the people assemble and drink liquor and then go to take their food. The candidate for admission serves water to the men and his prospective wife to the
herself.
'

woman

matters the

field

tribe.
is

women, both being then permitted to take food with the Next morning the people come again and the woman
dressed in a white cloth with bangles.

The
is

couple stand

together supported by their brother-in-law and sister-in-law


respectively,
their heads.

and turmeric dissolved

in

water

poured over
to the to this

They

are

now

considered to be married and

go round together and give the salutation or Johar


people, touching the feet of those

who

are entitled

mark of
for

respect,

and kissing the


is

others.

Among
is

the offences
getting the

which a man

temporarily put out of caste

ear torn either accidentally or otherwise, being beaten

by a

man
This

of very low caste, growing san-hemp {Crotalaria junced),

rearing tasar
last
is

silk-worms or getting maggots

in

a wound.

almost as serious an offence as killing a cow, and, in both cases, before an offender can be reinstated he must kill a fowl and swallow a drop or two of its blood with turmeric.

Women commonly
woman
for a
will often

get the lobe of the ear torn through the


;

heavy ear-rings which they wear


tear the ear.

and

in a

squabble another
is

seize the ear-ring maliciously in order to


in this

A woman injured
Janjgir.

way

put out of caste

To grow turmeric or garlic is also an offence against caste, but a man is permitted to do this for his own use and not for sale. A man who gets leprosy is
year
in

SOCIAL CUSTOMS The

233
purifica-

said to be permanently expelled from caste.


tion of delinquents
is

conducted by members of the Sonwani

is

whose business it which gold has been dipped and to take over the burden of his sins by first eating food with him. But others say that the Ilathi or elephant sept is the highest, and to its members are delegated these duties. And in Janjgir again the president of the committee gives the and this office gold-water, and is hence known as Sonwan must always be held by a man of the l^andar or monkey sept. The Bhainas are a comparatively civilised tribe and have They employ Brahmans to largely adopted Hindu usages. fix auspicious days for their ceremonies, though not to officiate at them. They live principally in the open country and are engaged in agriculture, though very iew of them hold land They now disclaim any and the bulk are farm-labourers.
(gold-water) and
Patel (headman) septs,
to give the offender water to drink in
;

7-

Social

connection with the primitive Baigas,


forests.

who

still

prefer the

But their caste mark, a symbol which may be affixed to documents in place of a signature or used for a brand on cattle, is a bow, and this shows that they retain the recollection of hunting as their traditional occupation. Like the Baigas, the tribe have forgotten their native They will eat pork and dialect and now speak bad Hindi. rats, and almost anything else they can get, eschewing only beef But in their intercourse with other castes they are absurdly strict, and will take boiled rice only from a Kawar, or from a Brahman if it is cooked in a brass and not in an earthen vessel, and this only from a male and not from a female Brahman while they will accept baked cJiapdtis and other food from a Gond and a Rawat. But in Sambalpur they will take this from a Savar and not from a Gond. They rank below the Gonds, Kawars and Savars or Saonrs. Women are tattooed with a representation of their sept totem and on the knees and ankles they have some figures of lines which are known as ghats. These they say will enable them to climb the mountains leading to heaven in the other world, while those who have not such marks will be pierced with spears on their way up the ascent. It has already been suggested that these marks may have given rise to the name of the Ghatyara division of the tribe.
;

234
I.

BHAMTA or BHAMTYA
Bhamta or Bhamtya.^

part

Occupa-

caste

numbering
all

4000

tion.

persons
reside

in

the

Central

Provinces,

nearly

of

whom

in the Wardha, Nagpur and Chanda Districts of Nagpur Division. The Bhamtas are also found in Bombay, Berar and Hyderabad. In Bombay they are known by the names of Uchla or Lifter and Ganthachor or Bundle-thief,' The Bhamtas were and still are

the

'

'

'

"^

notorious thieves, but


in

many

of the caste are

the cultivation of hemp, from which they

mats and gunny-bags. Formerly it Bhamta girl would not marry unless her suitor had been arrested not less than fourteen times by the police, when she considered that he had qualified as a man. The following description of their methods does not necessarily apply to the whole caste, though the bulk of them are believed to have criminal tendencies. But some colonies of Bhamtas who have taken to the manufacture of sacking and gunny-bags from hemp-fibre may perhaps be excepted. They steal only during the daytime, and divide that part of the Province which they frequent into regular beats or ranges. They adopt many disguises. Even in their own cottages one dresses as a Marwari
that a

now engaged make ropes, was said in Wardha

Bania, another as a Gujarat Jain, a third as a

Brahman

and a fourth as a Rajput. They keep to some particular disguise for years and often travel hundreds of miles, entering and stealing from the houses of the classes of persons whose dress they adopt, or taking service with a merchant or trader, and having gained their employer's confidence, seizing an opportunity to abscond with some valuable property. Sometimes two or three Bhamtas visit a large fair, and one of them dressed as a Brahman mingles with the crowd of bathers and worshippers. The false Brahman notices some ornament deposited by a bather, and while himself entering the water and repeating sacred verses, watches his opportunity and spreads out his cloth near the ornament, which he then catches with his toes, and dragging it with him to a distance as he walks away buries
' This article is mainly compiled from a paper by Pyare Lai Misra, Ethnographic Clerk.

Bombay
464.

Gazetteer

(Campbell),

xviii. p.

II

occurA rioN
in

235

The accomplices meanwhile loiter near, owner discovers his loss the Brahman sympathises with him and points out the accomplices as
it

the

sand.

and

when

the

likely thieves, thus diverting suspicion

from himself.
off,

The

and the real thief meanwhile digs the ornament out of the sand and Women often tie their ornaments escapes at his leisure. in bundles at such bathing-fairs, and in that case two Bhamtas will go up to her, one on each side, and while one distracts her attention the other makes off with the bundle and buries it in the sand. A Bhamta rarely retains the stolen property on his person while there is a chance They of his being searched, and is therefore not detected. steal never show considerable loyalty to one another, and the caste. from or give information against a member of If stolen property is found in a Bhamta's house, and it has merely been deposited there for security, the real thief comes forward. An escaped prisoner does not come back to his A Bhamta friends lest he should get them into trouble. is never guilty of house-breaking or gang- robbery, and if He he takes part in this offence he is put out of caste. He does not steal from the body of a person asleep. is, however, expert at the theft of ornaments from the person. He never steals from a house in his own village, and the villagers frequently share directly or indirectly in
victim follows the accomplices,
his gains.

who make

The Bhamtas

are

now

expert railway thieves.^

Two
so

of them will get into a carriage, and, engaging the other


to

passengers in conversation, find out where they are going,


as

know

the

time available for action.

When

it

gets dark and the travellers go to sleep, one of the


lies

Bhamtas

down on
it

the floor and covers himself with a large cloth.


if

He

begins feeling some bag under the seat, and

he cannot

open

with his hands, takes from his mouth the small curved

all Bhamtas carry concealed between their gum and upper lip, and with this he rips up the seams of the bag and takes out what he finds or they exchange bags, according to a favourite device of English railway thieves, and then

knife which

quickly either leave the train or get into another carriage.


1 The following particulars are taken from Colonel Portman's Report on Bhamtas of the Deccan (Bombay, 1887).

the

236
If attention
is

BHAMTA OR BHAMTYA
aroused they throw the stolen property out of
is

the window, marking the place and afterwards going back to

recover

it.

Another device

to split

open and pick the

Besides the knife they often pockets of people in a crowd. have a needle and thread and an iron nut-cutter. Members of other castes, as Chhatri, Kanjar, Rawat and
others,

who have taken to stealing, are frequently known as Bhamtas, but unless they have been specially initiated do The Bhamtas proper have two not belong to the caste. main divisions, the Chhatri Bhamtas, who are usually immigrants from Gujarat, and those of the Maratha country, who The former have a dialect are often known as Bhamtis. which is a mixture of Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, while The sections the latter speak the local form of Marathi. of the Chhatri Bhamtas are named after Rajput septs, as Badgujar, Chauhan, Gahlot, Bhatti, Kachhwaha and others. They may be partly of Rajput descent, as they have regular and pleasing features and a fair complexion, and are well built and sturdy. The sections of the Bhamtis are called by Maratha surnames, as Gudekar, Kaothi, Bailkhade, Satbhaia and others. The Chhatri Bhamtas have northern customs, and the Bhamtis those of the Maratha country. Marriage between persons of the same gotra or surname The Chhatris avoid marriage between relais prohibited. tions having a common greatgrandparent, but among the Bhamtis the custom of Mehunchar is prevalent, by which Girls the brother's daughter is married to the sister's son. are usually married at ten and eleven years of age or later. The betrothal and marriage customs of the two subcastes
differ,

the Chhatris following the ceremonial of the northern

and the Bhamtis that of the Maratha country. bride-price, but the Bhamtis usually do. Widow -marriage is allowed, and while the Chhatris expect the widow to marry her deceased husband's Among both brother, the Bhamtis do not permit this.
Districts

The Chhatris do not pay a

subdivisions a price

is paid for the widow to her parents. only permitted for immoral conduct on the part A divorced woman may remarry after giving of the wife. a feast to the caste panchdyat or committee, and obtaining

Divorce

is

their consent.

II

RIUJGION AND SOCIAL CUSTOMS


The goddess Devi those who ply a
is

lyj
3-

the tutelary deity of the caste, as

^di-

of

all

disreputable profession.

Animals are

sacrificed to her or let loose to

wander
is

in

her name.

The
In

sociLr" tustoms.

offerings are

appropriated

by the

village

washerman.

Bombay
at

the rendezvous of the Bhamtis

the temple of Devi

Konali, in Akalkot State, near Sholapur, and here the gangs frequently assemble before and after their raids to ask the goddess that luck may attend them and to thank her for They worship their rope-making implesuccess obtained.^ the Dasahra day. They both bury and burn on ments Ghosts and spirits are worshipped. If a man the dead. takes a second wife after the death of his first, the new wife wears a putli or image of the first wife on a piece of silver on her neck, and offers it the Jioni sacrifice by placing In cases of some ghl on the fire before taking a meal. doubt and difficulty she often consults the putli by speaking to it, while any chance stir of the image due to the

movement
approval.

of her
In

body

is

interpreted as approval or dis-

the Central Provinces the Bhamtis say that

they do not

admit

outsiders
In

into

the

caste,

but

this

is

almost

certainly
all

untrue.

Bombay

they are
pass

said

to

and through the two ceremonies of admission into the caste and adoption into a particular family. For the first he pays an admission fee, is bathed and dressed in new clothes, and one of the elders drops turmeric and sugar into his mouth. A feast follows, during which some elders of the caste eat
admit
also

Hindus^ except

the

very lowest

castes,

Muhammadans.

The candidate must

out of the same plate with him.


sion ceremony, but in order to

marry

This completes the admisin the caste a candidate

must

also be adopted into a particular family.


to

The Bhamta

adopt him invites the caste people to his house, and there takes the candidate on his knee while the guests drop turmeric and sugar into his mouth. The Bhamtas eat fish and fowl but not pork or beef, and drink liquor. This last practice is, however, frequently made a caste offence by the Bhamtis. They take cooked food from Brahmans and Kunbis and water from Gonds. The keeping of concubines is also an offence entailing temporary excommuni1

who has agreed

Portman,

loc.

cit.

Bombay

Gazetteer (Campbell), xviii.

p.

465.

238

BHARBHUNJA
The
morality of the caste
also
is

part

cation.
their

somewhat low and

women

are addicted to prostitution.


is

of the

Bhamta

looked
iiikdiii,

BJidinta ka

kdm
all.'

sub se

The occupation down on, and it is said, or The Bhamta's work is


'

apply either to his habits of made of twine and bamboo sticks at a death. In Bombay the showy dress
the worst of
stealing or to the fact that he supplies a bier

This

may

of the

Bhamta
body
for

is

proverbial.

Women
lip,

are tattooed before

marriage on the forehead and lower


of the

and on other parts

The men have the head shaved for three inches above the top of the forehead in front and an inch higher behind, and they wear the scalplock much thicker than Brahmans do. They usually have
purposes of adornment.
red head-cloths.

General
notice,

Bhapbhunja.^

The

occupational caste of grain-parchers.

The name

is

derived from the Sanskrit hJirdstra, a frying-pan,

and bhdrjaka, one who

fries. The Bharbhunjas numbered 191 i, and belong mainly to the northern Districts, their headquarters being in Upper India. In Chhattlsgarh the place of the Bharbhunjas is taken by the

3000 persons

in

remarks that the caste are traditionally supposed to be descended from a Kahar father and a Sudra mother, and they are probably connected with the In Saugor they say that their ancestors were Kahars. Kankubja Brahmans who were ordered to parch rice at the wedding of the great Rama, and in consequence of this one
Dhuris.
Sir H. Elliot
"

is known as Kanbajia. But Kankubja is one of the commonest names of subcastes among the people of northern India, and merely indicates that the bearers and there belong to the tract round the old city of Kanauj is no reason to suppose that it means anything more in the Another group are called Kaitha, case of the Bharbhunjas. and they say that their ancestors were Kayasths, who adopted It is said that in Bhopal the profession of grain-parching. proper Kayasths will take food from Kaitha Bharbhunjas and smoke from their huqqa and it is noticeable that in

of their subcastes

'

This

article contains

some informa-

Saugor.
^ Memoirs N. W.P. vol.

tion from a paper

by Mr. Gopal Par-

of the
i.

Races

of the

manand, Deputy Inspector of Schools,

p. 35.

II

SOCIAL CUSTOMS

239

^ not only the Kaitha subSaksena and Srivastab, which caste, but other groups called It is arc the names of well-known Kayasth subdivisions. possible, therefore, that the Kaitha group may really be Other subcastes are the connected with the Kayasths. Benglah, who are probably immigrants from Bengal and the Kandu, who may also come from that direction, Kandu

northern India Mr. Crooke gives

being the name of the corresponding caste of grain-parchers


in

Bengal.

The

social

customs of

tlxp

Bharbhunjas resemble those

2.

Social

of Hindustani castes of fairly good position."

They employ

^"^'"'^-

Brahmans
five

for their

ceremonies, and the family priest receives


for

rupees for officiating at a wedding, three rupees for a

and four annas on ordinary for a bride, and at their marriages the greater part of the expense falls on the girl's father, who has to give three feasts as against two provided After the wedding the brideby the bridegroom's father. groom's father puts on women's clothes given by the bride's father and dances before the family. Rose-coloured water and powder are sprinkled over the guests and the proceeding is known as Phag, because it is considered to have the same significance as the Holi festival observed in Phagun. This is usually done on the bank of a river or in some garden At the gauna or going-away ceremony outside the village. the bride and bridegroom take their seats on two wooden boards and then change places. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. The union of a widow with her deceased husband's younger brother is considered a
funeral,

one rupee

a birth,
is

occasions.

No

price

paid

suitable match, but

is

not compulsory.

marries a widow, he

first

When a bachelor goes through the proper ceremony


and employed
is

either with a stick or an ear-ring,

then united to the

widow by the simple

ritual

for

widow remarriage.

seduced by a member of the caste may be married to him as if she were a widow, but if her lover is an outsider she is permanently expelled from the caste. The Bharbhunjas occupy a fairly high social position,
girl
is
^ Tribes bhunja.

who

3.

Occupa-

tion.

and

Castes,

art.

Bhar-

]Mr.

mainder of this section is taken from Gopal Parmanand's notes.

See

article

on Kurmi.

The

re-

240

BHARBHUNJA

part

castes, the explanation

analogous to that of the Barais, Kahars and other serving being that all Hindus require the grain

this, as it is not cooked with water, may This be eaten abroad, on a journey or in the market-place. is known as pakki food, and even Brahmans will take it from But Mr. Crooke notes ^ that the work they do, their hands. and particularly the sweeping up of dry leaves for fuel, tends to lower them in the popular estimation, and it is a favourite curse to wish of an enemy that he may some day come to Of their occupation Sir stoke the kiln of a grain-parcher.

parched by them

Throughout the caste the actual work left to the women. The process A clay oven is built, somewhat in the is a simple one. shape of a bee-hive, with ten or twelve round holes at the A fire is lighted under it and broken earthen pots top. The grain to be containing sand are put on the holes. with sand stirred the and with a flat parched is thrown in The sand and piece of wood or a broom until it is ready. parched grain are then placed in a sieve, through which the The wages of the parcher are a proportion former escapes. of the grain, varying from one-eighth to one-fourth. In Bengal the caste was spoken of by early English travellers under the
H. Risley states that
is

"

of parching grain

usually

quaint

name

of the frymen."
is

"

In the Central Provinces also

grain-parching

woman's industry, only twentytwo per cent of those shown as working at it being men. There are two classes of tradesmen, those who simply keep ovens and parch grain which is brought to them, and those who keep the grain and sell it ready parched. The rates for
distinctly a

parching are a pice a seer or an eighth part of the grain. Gram and rice, husked or unhusked, are the grains usually
parched.

and

parched, gram is called phutdna (broken) The Bharbhunjas also prepare sathu, a flour made by grinding parched gram or wheat, which is a
rice Idhi.

When

favourite food for a light

morning meal, or

for travellers.

It

can be taken without preparation, being simply mixed with

water and a
sathii

little salt

or sugar.

The

following story

is

told

emphasise its convenience in this respect. about travellers were about to take some food before Once two
to
'

Ibidem.

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal, art.

Kandu.

II

OCCUPAT/ON

241

whom one had satku and the other dhdn (unhusked rice). The one with the dhdn knew that it would take him a long time to pound, and then cook and
starting in the morning, of
eat
it,

so he said to the other, "

My

poor

friend,

perceive

that

you only have sathu, which will delay you because you must find water, and then mix it, and find salt, and put it in, pound, eat and before your sat/m can be ready, while rice go. But if you like, as you are in a greater hurry than I The other am, I will change my rice for your sathu." traveller unsuspectingly consented, thinking he was getting the best of the bargain, and while he was still looking for a mortar in which to pound his rice, the first traveller had mixed and eaten the sathu and proceeded on his journey. In the vernacular the point is brought out by the onomatopoeic character of the lines, which cannot be rendered in English, The caste are now also engaged in selling tobacco They and sweetmeats and the manufacture of fireworks. from the can collect with any refuse they ovens stoke their inen To the saying, Bhdr hence comes ddlnal roads, and something or away meaning to throw throw into the oven,' Bhdr-jhokna sigit while to make ducks and drakes with nifies to light or heat the oven, and, figuratively, to take up Another proverb quoted by a mean occupation (Platts). Mr. Crooke is, Bharbhunja ka larki kesar ka tikal or The Bharbhunja's slut with saffron on her forehead,' meaning one Another saying is, To tiiin dressed in borrowed plumes. kya abhi tak bhdr bhunjte rake,' or Have you been stoking meaning to imply that the person the oven all this time ?

'

'

'

'

'

'

addressed has been wasting his time, because the profits The oven of the Psalmist from grain-parching are so small. into which the grass was cast no doubt closely resembled
that of the Bharbhunjas.

VOL.

II

BHARIA
LIST OF
I

PARAGRAPHS
5

Origin and

h'ibal lege fid.

Fii7ieral ceremonies,

z. 3.

Tribal subdivisions.

6.
7. 8.

Religion
Social

Marriage.
Childbirth.

life

and magic. and customs.

4.

Occupatioii.

I.

Origin

and
tribal

Dravidian tribe numBharia, BhaPia - Bhumia.^ bering about 50,000 persons and residing principally in
the Jubbulpore District, which contains a half of the total

legend.

The others are found in Chhindvvara and Bilaspur. number. The proper name of the tribe is Bharia, but they are often called Bharia-Bhumia, because many of them hold the office of Bhumia or priest of the village gods and of the lower castes in Jubbulpore, and the Bharias prefer the designaThe term tion of Bhumia as being the more respectable. Bhumia or Lord of the soil is an alternative for Bhuiya, the name of another Dravidian tribe, and no doubt came to be applied to the office of village priest because it was the term Baiga has a similar held by members of this tribe signification in Mandla and Balaghat, and is applied to the village priest though he may not belong to the Baiga tribe The Bharias have forgotten their original affinities, at all. and several stories of the origin of the tribe are based on One of these is to the far-fetched derivations of the name. effect that Arjun, when matters were going badly with the Pandavas in their battle against the Kauravas, took up a handful of bJiarru grass and, pressing it, produced a host of men who fought in the battle and became the ancestors of
'
' ;

^ This article is compiled fronn notes taken by Mr. Hira Lai, Assistant Gazetteer Superintendent in Jubbul-

pore,

and from a paper by Ram Lai Sharma, schoolmaster, Bilaspur.

242

'ART

II

ORIGIN

AND

I'RII'^AL

LEGEND
same

243

the Bliarias.
value.

And

there are others of the


is

historical

But there is the contemptuous form of Bhar, as Telia for Teli, Jugia for Jogi, Kuria for Kori, and that the Bharias belong to the great Bhar tribe who were once dominant in the eastern part of the United Provinces, but are now at the bottom of the social scale, and relegated by their conquerors to the degrading office of swineherds. The Rajjhars, who appear to have formed a separate caste as the landowning subdivision of the Bhars, like the Raj-Gonds among Gonds, are said to be the descendants of a Raja and a Bharia woman. The Rajjhars form a separate caste in the Central Provinces, and the Bharias acknowledge some connection with them, but refuse to take water from their hands, as they consider them to be of impure blood. The Bharias also give Mahoba or Bandhogarh as their former home, and these places are in the country of the Bhars. According to tradition Raja Kama Deva, a former king of Dahal, the classical name of the Jubbulpore country, was a Bhar, and it may be that the immigration of the Bharias into Jubbulpore dates from his period, which is taken as 1040 to 1080 A.D. While then it
be considered as fairly certain that the Bharias are merely the Bhar tribe with a variant of the name, it is clear from the titles of their family groups, which will shortly be
given, that they are an extremely

no reason to doubt that l^haria

may

largely of the descendants of

mixed class and consist members of other castes, who,

having lost their own social position, have taken refuge among the Bharias at the bottom of the social scale. Mr. Crooke says of the Bhars ^ " The most probable supposition is that the Bhars were a Dravidian race closely allied to the Kols, Cheros and Seoris, who at an early date succumbed to the invading Aryans. This is borne out by their appearance and physique, which closely resemble that of the undoubted
:

non-Aryan aborigines of the Vindhyan-Kaimur plateau."


the

In

been so closely associated with the Gonds that they have been commonly considered to belong to that tribe. Thus Mr. Drysdale says of them " The Bharias were the wildest of the wild Gonds
Central

Provinces the

Bharias have

'

Tribes
-

and Castes of the N. W.P., art. Bhar. C.P. Census Report, 1881, p. 188.

;44

BHARIA

Tribal sub2.

and were inveterate dJiayd^ cutters.' Although, however, they have to some extent intermarried with the Gonds, the Bharias were originally quite a distinct tribe, and would belong to the Kolarian or Munda group but that they have entirely forgotten their own language and speak only Hindi, though with a peculiar intonation especially noticeable in the case of their women. The structure of the tribe is a very loose one, and though
the Bharias say that they are divided into subcastes, there
are none in reality.

divisions.

Members

of

all

castes except the very

lowest

may become

Bharias, and one Bharia will recognise

another as a fellow-tribesman if he can show relationship But a to any person admitted to occupy that position. division is in process of formation in Bilaspur based on the practice of eating beef, from which some abstain, and in

consequence look down on the others who are addicted to it, and call them Dhur Bharias, the term dJiur meaning cattle. The abstainers from beef now refuse to marry with the others.
tribe is divided into a number of exogamous groups, and the names of these indicate the very heterogeneous elements of which it consists. Out of fifty-one groups reported not less than fifteen or sixteen have names derived from other castes or clans, showing almost certainly that such groups were formed by a mixed marriage or the admission Such names are Agaria, from of a family of outsiders.

The

the Agarias or iron-workers the god of the Agarias


;

this

clan worships Loha-Sur,

Ahir
a

this clan

worships the Ahir gods


;

Brahman ancestor Chandel, from a Rajput clan Dagdoha, tribe of that name persons of this sept hang a piece of a synonym of Basor bamboo and a curved knife to the waist of the bride at their Kuanpa, born marriages Dhurua, born of a Dhurua Gond Kurka, of Korku of an Ahir subcaste of that name Maravi, the name of a Gond clan Rathor from parentage Samarba from a Chamar and Yarkara, the a Rajput clan name of a Gond clan. These names sufficiently indicate Other the diverse elements of which the tribe is made up.
; ;
:

Ahirwar, or the descendants of an Bamhania, born of Binjhwar or Binjha, perhaps from the
;

'

Dhaya means

the system of shifting cultivation, which until prohibited was

so injurious to the forests.

MARRIAGE
:

245

group names with meanings are


scckide
tlieir

Gambhele, or those who

women

in a separate

house during the menstrual


;

Kaitha, from the kaith tree {^Fcronia clephantiivi) Karondiha, from the karonda plant {Carissa Carandas) Magarha, from Diagar a crocodile members of this group worship an image of a crocodile made with flour and fried members of this group in oil Sonwani, from sona gold perform the ceremony of readmission of persons temporarily put out of caste by sprinkling on them a little water in Any person who does not which gold has been dipped. know his clan name calls himself a Chandel, and this group, though bearing the name of a distinguished Rajput clan, is But although the rule of looked upon as the lowest. exogamy in marriage is recognised, it is by no means strictly adhered to, and many cases are known in which unions have taken place between members of the same clan. So long as people can recollect a relationship between themselves, they do not permit their families to intermarry. But the memory of the Bharia does not extend beyond the
period
;
;
:

third generation.

boy's father,

Marriages are adult, and the proposal comes from the who has it conveyed to the girl's father through
friend
in

3.

Mar-

"^^^'

some
to

his

village.

If a

betrothal

is

arranged the

bride's father invites the father

and friends of the bridegroom


the boy's father brings

dinner

on

this occasion

necklaces of lac beads

and

spangles and

presents

some them
tie

to the bride's female relatives,

who

then

come out and

the necklaces round his neck and those of his friends, place
the spangles on their foreheads, and then, catching hold of
their cheeks, press

powder

and twist them violently. Some turmeric thrown on their faces. This is the binding portion of the betrothal ceremony. The date of marriage is fixed by a Brahman, this being the only purpose for which he is employed, and a bride-price varying from six to
is

also

twelve rupees

is

paid.

On

this occasion

the

women draw
The marriage

caricatures with turmeric or charcoal on the loin-cloth of the

boy's father, which they

manage

to purloin.

ceremony follows generally the Hindu form. The bridegroom puts on women's ornaments and carries with him an
iron

nut-cracker or dagger to keep off evil

spirits.

After

246

BHARIA
is

part
held.

the wedding, the niidua, a sort of burlesque dance,

mother gets the dress of the boy's father and puts it on, together with a false beard and moustaches, and dances, holding a wooden ladle in one hand and a packet of ashes in the other. Every time she approaches the bridegroom's father on her rounds she spills some of the ashes over him, and occasionally gives him a crack on the head with her ladle, these actions being accompanied by bursts of laughter from the party and frenzied playing by the musicians. When the party reach the bridegroom's house on their return, his mother and the other women come out and burn a little mustard and human hair in a lamp, the unpleasant smell emitted by these articles being considered potent to drive away evil spirits. Every time the bride leaves her father's house she must weep, and must cry separately with each one of her caste-sisters when taking leave of them. When she returns home she must begin weeping loudly on the boundary of the village, and continue doing so until she has embraced each of her relatives and friends, a performance which in a village containing a large number of Bharias may take from three to six hours. These tears are, however, considered to be a manifestation of joy, and the girl who cannot produce enough of them is often ridiculed. A prospective son-in-law who serves for his wife is known as Gharjian. The work given him is always very heavy, and the Bharias have a saying which compares his treatment with that awarded to an ox obtained on hire. If a girl is seduced by a man of the tribe, she may be married to him by the ceremony prescribed for the remarriage of a widow, which consists merely in the placing of bangles on the wrists and a present of a new cloth, together with a feast to the caste-fellows. Similarly if she is seduced by a man of another caste who would be allowed to become a Bharia, she can be married as a widow to any man of the tribe. A widow is expected to marry her late husband's younger brother, but no compulsion is exercised. If a bachelor espouses a widow, he first goes through the ceremony of marriage with a ring to which a twig of the date-palm is tied, by carrying the ring seven times round the marriage post. This is necessary to save him from the sin of dying
girl's

The

II

ClflLDBIRTII RELIGION

AND MAGIC
is

247

unmarried, as the union with a widow


true marriage.

not reckoned as a
said to be allowed

In Jubbulpore divorce

is

only for conjugal misbehaviour, and a Bharia will pass over


three transgressions on his wife's part before finally turning

her out of his house.

A woman

who

wishes to leave her

husband simply runs away from him and lives with somebody else. In this case the third party must pay a goat to the husband by way of compensation and give a feast to the
caste-fellows.

The
birth
is

carelessness of the Bharias in the matter of childnotorious,

4.

Child"

and it is said that mothers commonly went 'on working up to the moment of childbirth and were delivered of children in the fields. Now, however, the woman lies up for three days, and some ceremonies of
purification

^^^^

branded on the day of


this will

Chhattlsgarh infants are under the impression that cause them to digest the food they have taken in
are In
their birth,

performed.

the

womb.

The
sister,
first

child

is

named
lips are

six

months

after birth

by

the father's

and

its

then touched with cooked


Funeral

food for the

time.
5.

The

tribe
for

both burn and bury the dead, and observe

an adult for ten days, during which time they daily put out a leaf-cup containing food for the use of the deceased. In the third year after the death, the viaugan or

mourning

^lonies

and receives what they call one limb iang)^ or half his belongings the ang consists of a loin-cloth, a brass vessel and dish, an axe, a scythe and a wrist-ring. The Bharias call themselves Hindus and worship the village deities of the locality, and on the day of Diwali offer a black chicken to their family god, who may be Bura Deo, Dulha Deo or Karua, the cobra. For this snake they profess great reverence, and say that he was actually born in As he could not work in the fields he was a Bharia family. usually employed on errands. One day he was sent to the house, and surprised one of his younger brother's wives, who had not heard him coming, without her veil. She reproached him, and he retired in dudgeon to the oven, where he was presently burnt to death by another woman, who kindled a fire under it not knowing that he was there. So he has
caste beggar visits the relatives of the deceased,
;

6.

Reii-

magic"

248

BHARIA

part

The Bharias been deified and is worshipped by the tribe. also venerate Bagheshwar, the tiger god, and believe that no On the Diwali day they invite the tiger will eat a Bharia. tiger to drink some gruel which they place ready for him behind their houses, at the same time warning the other In the morning they villagers not to stir out of doors. display the empty vessels as a proof that the tiger has them. They practise various magical devices, visited believing that they can kill a man by discharging at him a inutJi or handful of charmed objects such as lemons, This ball will travel through vermilion and seeds of urad. the air and, descending on the house of the person at whom it is aimed, will kill him outright unless he can avert its power by stronger magic, and perhaps even cause it to recoil in the same manner on the head of the sender. They exorcise the A person Sudhiniyas or the drinkers of human blood. troubled by one of these is seated near the Bharia, who
places two pots with their
recites incantations

This result
fully

is

He mouths joined over a fire. and the pots begin to boil, emitting blood. obtained by placing a herb in the pot whose
To
drive

juice stains the water red.

exorcised.

mixture of chillies, which emits a very

salt,

The blood-sucker is thus successaway the evil eye they burn a human hair and the husks of kodon,
Such devices are practised by
hold
are

evil smell.

members
village

of the tribe

who

the

office

of

Bhumia

or

priest.

The Bharias

well-known thieves, and

they say that the dark spots on the moon are caused by a banyan tree, which God planted with the object of diminishing her light and giving thieves a chance to ply their trade. If a Bhumia wishes to detect a thief, he sits clasping hands

with a friend, while a pitcher

is

supported on their hands.


deity
to

An

oblation

is

offered

to

the

guide the ordeal

and the names of suspected persons are recited one by one, the name at which the pitcher topples over being that of the thief. But before employing this method of detection the Bhumia proclaims his intention of doing so on a certain date, and in the meantime places a heap of ashes in some lonely place and invites the thief to deposit the stolen By article in the ashes to save himself from exposure. common custom each person in the village is required to visit
correctly,

II

SOCIAL LIFE

AND CUSTOMS
it,

249

the heap and

mingle a handful of ashes with

and not

infrequently the thief, frightened at the Bhumia's powers of


detection, takes the stolen article

and buries

it

in

the ash-heap

duly found, the necessity for resorting to the Occasionfurther method of divination being thus obviated.

where

it

is

ally the

Bharia

in his

character of a

Hindu

will

make

vow

Satya Narayan Katha or some But he understands nothing of it, and if other holy work. the Brahman employed takes a longer time than he had bargained for over the recitation he becomes extremely bored
to

pay

for a recitation of the

and

irritated.

The

scantiness of the Bharia's dress


is
'

is

proverbial,
'

and

7-

Social

the saying

Bharia b/nudka, pwdnda

langwdta,' or

The

customs.

Bharia is verily a devil, who only covers his loins with a strip Forof cloth.' But lately he has assumed more clothing. merly an iron ring carried on the wrist to exorcise the evil Women wear usually only one spirits was his only ornament. coarse cloth dyed red, spangles on the forehead and ears, bead

and anklets. Some now have Hindu ornaments, but in common with other low castes they do not usually wear a nose-ring, out of respect to the Women, though they work in the fields, do not higher castes. commonly wear shoes and if these are necessary to protect the feet from thorns, they take them off and carry them in the presence of an elder or a man of higher caste. They
necklaces, and cheap metal bracelets
;

are tattooed with various devices, as a cock, a crown, a native


pitcher stand, a sieve and a figure called dhandha, which consists of six dots joined by lines, and appears to be a representation of a man, one dot standing for the head, one for the body, two for the arms and two for the legs. This device is also used by other castes, and they evince reluctance if asked to explain its meaning, so that it may be intended as a representation of the girl's future husband. The Bharia is considered very ugly, and a saying about him is The Bharia came down from the hills and got burnt
chair, a
'
:

He does not bathe by a cinder, so that his face is black.' for months together, and lives in a dirt}' hovel, infested by
the fowls which he loves
to rear.

His food consists

of

coarse grain, often with boiled leaves as a vegetable, and he

consumes much whey, mixing

it

with his scanty portion of

250
grain.

BHARIA

TART

II

Members of all except the lowest castes are admitted Bharia community on presentation of a pagri and some money to the headman, together with a feast to the The Bharias do not eat monkeys, beef or caste-fellows.
to the

the leavings of others, but they freely consume fowls and


pork.

They

are not considered as impure, but rank above

those castes only whose touch conveys pollution.


slaughter of a

For the
the

cow

the Bilaspur Bharias

inflict

severe

punishment

one for each limb of the cow, the limbs being held to consist of the legs, They have an aversion for the horse ears, horns and tail.
of nine daily feasts to the caste, or

and

will

not remove

its

dung.
in

To

account for

this

they

tell

God gave them a But they did not know how horse to ride and fight upon. The wisest to mount the horse because it was so high. man among them then proposed to cut notches in the
a story to the effect that
the beginning
side of the animal by which they could climb up, and But God, when he saw it, was very angry they did this. with them, and ordered that they should never be soldiers, but should be given a winnowing-fan and broom to sweep

the grain out of the


that way.
8.

grass

and

make

their livelihood

in

Occupa-

The Bharias
and

are usually farmservants

and

field-labourers,

tion.

their services in

these capacities are in

much

request.

and industrious, and so simple that it is an easy matter for their masters to involve them in perpetual debt, and thus to keep them bound to service from generation to generation. They have no understanding of accounts, and the saying, Pay for the marriage of a Bharia and he is your bond-slave for ever,' sufficiently explains the methods adopted by their employers and creditors.
are hardy
'

They

I.

252

BHAT
states,^

part
to find the

Risley

"

seems disposed

germ of the

and family priests, who were attached to the king's household in Vedic times. The characteristic profession of the Bhats has an ancient and distinguished history. The literature of both Greece and India owes the preservation of its oldest treasures to the

Brahman

caste in the bards, ministers

singers

who

recited

poems

in the

households of the

chiefs,

and doubtless helped in some measure to shape the masterpieces which they handed down. Their place was one of marked distinction. In the days when writing was unknown, the man who could remember many verses was held in high honour by the tribal chief, who depended upon the memory of the bard for his personal amusement, for the record of his own and his ancestors' prowess, and for the maintenance of the genealogy which established the purity of his descent. The bard, like the herald, was not lightly to be slain, and even Odysseus in the heat of his vengeance spares the aoiSo? Phemius, who sang among the wooers of
'

necessity.' "

There is no reason to doubt that the Birm or Baram Bhats are an offshoot of Brahmans, their name being merely a corruption of the term Brahman. But the caste is a very mixed one, and another large section, the Charans, are almost certainly derived from Rajputs. Malcolm states that
according to the fable of their origin,
;

Mahadeo

first

created

Bhats to attend his lion and bull but these could not prevent the former from killing the latter, which was a source of infinite vexation and trouble, as it compelled Mahadeo to create new ones. He therefore formed the Charan, equally devout with the Bhat, but of bolder spirit, and gave him in charge these favourite animals. From that time no bull was ever destroyed by the lion.^ This fable perhaps indicates that while the peaceful Bhats were Brahmans, the more warlike Charans were Rajputs. It is also said that some Rajputs disguised themselves as bards to escape the vengeance of Parasurama.^ The Maru Charans intermarry with Rajputs, and their name appears to be derived from Maru, the term for the Rajputana desert, which is also found in Marwar.
^

Tribes a7id Castes of Bengal, art.


ii.

^ *

Art. Bhat.

Brahman. ^ Malcolm, Central India,

Rajasthan,

ii.

p.

406.

p. 132.

II

SOCIAL STATUS OF THE CASTE


states
'

253

that when the Rajputs migrated fn^m the banks of the Ganges to Rajputana, their lirahman priests did not accompany them in any numbers, and hence the Charans arose and supplied their place. They had to understand the rites of worship, particularly of Siva and Parvati, the favourite deities of the Rajputs, and were taught to read and write. One class became merchants and travelled with large convoys of goods, and the others were the bards and genealogists of the Rajputs. Their songs were in the rudest metre, and their language was the local dialect, understood by all. All this evidence shows that the Charans were a class of Rajput bards. But besides the Bi/m or Brahman Bhats and the Rajput Charans there is another large body of the caste of mixed

Malcolm

3.

Lower-

^^-

who serve as bards of the lower castes and are probably composed to a great extent of members of these
origin,
castes.

Bhats.

These are known They beg from such


;

as

the

Brid-dhari or

bes's^incf

castes as Lodhis, Telis, Kurmis,

Ahirs and so on, each caste having a separate section of Bhats to serve it the Bhats of each caste take food from the members of the caste, but they also eat and intermarry with each other. Again, there are Bairagi Bhats who beg from Bairagis, and keep the genealogies of the temple-priests and their successors. Yet another class are the Dasaundhis or Jasondhis, who sing songs in honour of Devi, play on musical instruments and practise astrology. These rank below the cultivating castes and sometimes admit members of such castes who have taken religious vows. The Brahman or Birm-Bhats form a separate subcaste, 4. Social and the Rajputs are sometimes called Rajbhat. These wear the^castl the sacred thread, which the Brid-Bhats and Jasondhis do not. The social status of the Bhats appears to vary greatly. Sir H. Risley states that they rank immediately below Kayasths, and Brahmans will take water from their hands. The Charans are treated by the Rajputs with the greatest respect " the highest ruler rises when one of this class enters or leaves an assembly, and the Charan is invited to eat first at a Rajput feast. He smokes from the same huqqa as Rajputs, and only caste-fellows can do this, as the smoke
;

'

Malcolm,

ii.

p.

135.

Rajasthdn,

ii.

pp. 133, 134.

2 54

BHAT
its

PART
to

passes through water on

way

the mouth.

In past

times

the Charan acted

as a herald,

and

his person

was
on

inviolable.

He was

addressed as Maharaj,^ and could

sit

the Singhasan or Lion's Hide, the ancient term for a Rajput


throne, as well as on the hides of the tiger, panther

and

black antelope.

with

the

The Rajputs held him in equal estimation Brahman or perhaps even greater.^ This was

because they looked to him to enshrine their heroic deeds in His sarcastic his songs and hand them down to posterity. references to a defeat in battle or any act displaying a want
of courage inflamed their passions as nothing else could do.

On

the other hand, the Brid-Bhats,

who serve

the lower castes,

5.

Social

customs.

This is because they beg at occupy an inferior position. weddings and other feasts, and accept cooked food from members of the caste who are their clients. Such an act constitutes an admission of inferior status, and as the Bhats eat together their position becomes equivalent to that of the Thus if other Bhats eat with the lowest group among them. Bhats of Telis or Kalars, who have taken cooked food from their clients, they are all in the position of having taken food from Telis and Kalars, a thing which only the lowest castes will do. If the Bhat of any caste, such as the Kurmis, keeps a girl of that caste, she can be admitted into the community, Such a caste which is therefore of a very mixed character. as the Kurmis will not even take water from the hands of This rule applies also where a the Bhats who serve them. special section of the caste itself act as bards and minstrels. Thus the Pardhans are the bards of the Gonds, but rank below ordinary Gonds, who give them food and will not take And the Sansias, the bards of the Jats, and it from them. the Mirasis, who are employed in this capacity by the lower castes generally, occupy a very inferior position, and are sometimes considered as impure. The customs of the Bhats resemble those of other castes The higher Bhats forbid the reQ^ corresponding status. marriage of widows, and expel a girl who becomes pregnant
before marriage.

They

carry a dagger, the special

emblem

of the Charans, in order to be distinguished from low-class


'

Great King, the ordinary method of address to Brahmans.


-

RdjasthCin,

ii.

p.

175.

II

THE

llllArS BUSINESS

255

The lihuts generally display the chaur or yak -tail whisk and the chhadi or silver-plated rod on ceremonial occasions, and they worship these emblems of their calling on The former is waved over the bridethe principal festivals. groom at a wedding, and the latter is borne before him. The Brahman Bhats abstain from flesh of any l^ind and liquor, and other Bhats usually have the same rules about Brahman Bhats and food as the caste whom they serve. the sacred thread. The high status Charans alone wear sometimes assigned to this division of the caste is shown in the saying Age BrCikvimi pichhc Bhat
lihats.
take picJihe aitr jdt^
or,
*

First

comes the Brahman, then the Bhat, and

after

them
6.

the other castes.'

The business of a Bhat in former times is thus described by Forbes ^ " When the rainy season closes and travellingbecomes practicable, the bard sets off on his yearly tour from his residence in the Bhatwara or bard's quarter of some city One by one he visits each of the Rajpiat chiefs or town. who are his patrons, and from whom he has received portions
:

The

-'

J^^^.'^

business.

of land or annual grants of money, timing his arrival,


possible,
festivals.

if

to suit

occasions of marriage

or

other domestic

After he has received the usual courtesies he produces the Wai, a book written in his own crabbed hieroglyphics or in those of his father, which contains the descent of the house from its founder, interspersed with many a verse or ballad, the dark sayings contained in which are chanted forth in musical cadence to a delighted audience, and are

then orally interpreted by the bard with

many an

illustrative

anecdote or
it

tale.

The Wai, however,

is

not merely a source


;

for the gratification of family pride or


is

even of love of song

by which questions of relationship are determined when a marriage is in prospect, and disputes
also a record

relating to the division of ancestral property are decided,


intricate as these last

necessarily are from the practice of that


is

polygamy and the


entitled

rule
It

all

the sons of a family are

to

a share.

the duty of the bard at each

periodical visit to register the births, marriages


1

and deaths

Rasmala,

ii.

pp. 261, 262.

256

BHAT
in the family since his last circuit, as

which have taken place

7.

Their

extor-

tionate
practices.

worthy of remark which have occurred to affect the fortunes of his patron nor have we ever heard even a doubt suggested regarding the accurate, much less the honest fulfilment of this duty by the The manners of the bardic tribe are very similar to bard. their dress is nearly the same, those of their Rajput clients but the bard seldom appears without the katdr or dagger, a representation of which is scrawled beside his signature, and often rudely engraved upon his monumental stone, in evidence ^ of his death in the sacred duty of trdga (suicide)." The Bhat thus fulfilled a most useful function as regisBut his merits were soon trar of births and marriages. eclipsed by the evils produced by his custom of extolling liberal patrons and satirising those who gave inadequately. The desire of the Rajputs to be handed down to fame in the Bhat's songs was such that no extravagance was spared to Chand, the great Rajput bard, sang of the satisfy him. marriage of Prithwi Raj, king of Delhi, that the bride's father emptied his coffers in gifts, but he filled them with the praises A lakh of rupees ^ was given to the chief bard, of mankind. and this became a precedent for similar occasions. " Until vanity suffers itself to be controlled," Colonel Tod wrote,^ " and the aristocratic Rajputs submit to republican simplicity, Unthe evils arising from nuptial profusion will not cease. fortunately those who should check it find their interest in stimulating it, namely, the whole crowd of vidiigtas or beggars, bards, minstrels, jugglers, Brahmans, who assemble on these occasions, and pour forth their epithalamiums in The bards are the grand praise of the virtue of liberality. recorders of fame, and the volume of precedent is always
well as to chronicle all the other events
;
;

See later in this article. This present of a lakh of rupees


as

is

known

Lakh

Pasaru, and

it

is

not

It usually given in cash but in kind. is made up of grain, land, carriages,

jewellery, horses, camels

and varies

in value

and elephants, from Rs. 30,000 to

Rs. 70,000.

living bard,

Mahama-

that he was made ayachaka by the Jodhpur Raja. Ayachaka means literally 'not a beggar,' and when a bard has once been made ayachaka he cannot accept gifts from any person other than his own patron. An ayachaka was formerly known as polpat, as it became his bounden duty to sing the praises of

hopadhyaya Murar Das, has received


three

Lakh Pasarus from

the Rajas of

from the gate {pol) of the donor's fort or castle. (Mr.


his patron constantly

Jodhpur and has refused one from the Rana of Udaipur in view of the fact

HTra Lai.)
2

Rajasihan,

ii.

p.

548.

Beitnose, Cotlo., Derby.

BHAT WITH

HIS

PUTLA OR

DOLL.

11

THEIR EXTORTIONATE PRACTICES


by
citing the liberality of former chiefs
'

257
;

resorted to

while

the dread of their satire

shuts the eyes of the

chief to

consequences, and
reputation
ruin."

they are only anxious to maintain the


ancestors,

of

their

though fraught with future


the desire to

Owing

t this

insensate liberality in

satisfy the bards

and win their praises, a Rajput chief who had to marry a daughter was often practically ruined and
;

the

desire

to

avoid

such obligations led


infanticide,

to

the

general

practice

of

female

formerly

Rajputana.
voracity
;

The importance

of the

so prevalent in bards increased their


"

Mr. Nesficld describes them as

Rapacious and
one of
the

conceited mendicants, too proud to work but not too proud


to

beg."

The Dholis

or

minstrels

were

seven great evils which the famous king Sidhraj expelled

from Anhilwada Patan in Gujarat the Dakans or witches Malcolm states that " They give praise and were another.^ fame in their songs to those who are liberal to them, while they visit those who neglect or injure them with satires in which the victims are usually reproached with illegitimate birth and meanness of character. Sometimes the Bhat, if very seriously offended, fixes an e-^%y of the person he desires to degrade on a long pole and appends to it a slipper as a mark of disgrace. In such cases the song of the Bhat records the infamy of the object of his revenge. This image usually travels the country till the party or his friends purchase the cessation of the curses and ridicule thus
;

entailed.

It

is

not deemed

in

these countries within the

power of the prince, much less any other person, to stop a Bhat or even punish him for such a proceeding. In i 8 i 2 Sevak Ram Seth, a banker of Holkar's court, offended one of these Bhats, pushing him rudely out of the shop where the man had come to ask alms. The man made a figure * of him to which he attached a slipper and carried it to court, and everywhere sang the infamy of the Seth. The latter, though a man of wealth and influence, could not
prevent him, but obstinately refused to purchase his forbear-

His friends after some months subscribed Rs. 80 and the Bhat discontinued his execrations, but said it was
ance.
1

Viserva,

lit.

poison.

From
II

dhol, a

drum.

Rajasthdn, ii. p. 1S4. Lit. putli or doll.

VOL.

258

BHAT
late, as his

part

too

curses had taken effect

and the superstitious

Hindus ascribe the

ruin of the banker, which took place

some
'

years afterwards, to this unfortunate event."


'

The

loquacity

and importunity of the Bhats are shown in the saying, Four and their insincerity in the proverb Bhats make a crowd quoted by Mr. Crooke, " The bard, the innkeeper and the they are polite when customers harlot have no heart ^ arrive, but neglect those leaving (after they have paid) " The Bhat women are as bold, voluble and ready in retort as When a Bhat woman passes a male castethe men. fellow on the road, it is the latter who raises a piece of
; ;

cloth to his face


8_

till

the

woman

is

out of sight."

The

Some

of the lower classes of Bhats have

become

religious

jasondhis.

mendicants and musicians, and perform ceremonial functions.

Thus the Jasondhis, who


take their

are considered a class of Bhats,

name from the jas or hymns sung in praise of They are divided into various sections, as the Nakib Devi. or flag-bearers in a procession, the Nazir or ushers who
introduced visitors to the Raja, the Nagaria or players on
kettle-drums, the Karaola
clothes and beg,

and
also

the Panda,

who pour sesamum who serve

oil

on

their

as priests of

Devi, and beg carrying an image of the goddess in their

hands.

There
as

is

who
tion

serve

bards

Muhammadan Bhats and genealogists for Muhammadan


a section of

castes.

Some

Bhats, having the rare and needful qualifica-

of literacy so that they can read the old Sanskrit medical works, have, like a number of Brahmans, taken to the practice of medicine and are known as Kaviraj. the persons of the Charans in the travelled bard and herald were sacred, and they ^ from court to court without fear of molestation from robbers or enemies. It seems likely that the Charans may have but united the breeding of cattle to their calling of bard

9.

The

As

already stated,

Charansas capacity of
carriers.
'^

''

in

any case the advantage derived from their sanctity was so important that they gradually became the chief carriers and traders of Rajputana and the adjoining tracts. They
further, in virtue of their

holy character, enjoyed a partial

exemption from the perpetual and harassing imposts levied


1

Tribes

and

Castes, art. Bhat.


is

Ibidem^

Veiling the face

a sign of modesty.

II

SUICIDE

AND THE FEAR OF

GllOSrS

259

by evciy petty State on produce entering its territory and the combination of advantages thus obtained was such as to give them almost a monopoly in trade. They carried merchandise on large droves of bullocks all over' Rajputana and the adjoining countries and in course of time the
;

carriers restricted themselves to their

new

profession, splitting

from the Charans and forming the caste of Banjaras. But the mere reverence for their calling would not have sufficed for a ' permanent safeguard to the Charans from '^ destitute and unscrupulous robbers. They preserved it by the customs of CJiaiidi or Trdga and Dharna. These consisted in their readiness to mutilate, starve or kill themselves rather than give up property entrusted to their care and it was a general belief that their ghosts would then haunt the persons whose ill deeds had forced them to take their own lives. It seems likely that this belief in the power of a suicide or murdered man to avenge himself by haunting any persons who had injured him or been responsible for his death may have had a somewhat wide prevalence and been partly accountable for the reprobation attaching in early times to the murderer and the act of self-slaughter. The haunted murderer would be impure and would bring ill-fortune on all who had to do with him, while the injury which a suicide would inflict on his relatives in haunting them would cause this act to be regarded as a sin against one's family and tribe. Even the ordinary fear of the ghosts of people who die in the natural course, and
off

10.
!^"'^'

Suicide

"i^ fear of

ghosts,

especially of those

who

are killed

by
is

accident,

is

so strong

that a large part of the funeral rites

devoted to placating
;

and laying the ghost of the dead man and in India the period of observance of mourning for the dead is perhaps in reality that time during which the spirit of the dead man is supposed to haunt his old abode and render the survivors of his family impure. It was this fear of ghosts on which the Charans relied, nor did they hesitate a moment to sacrifice their lives in defence of any obligation they had undertaken or of property committed to their care. When plunderers carried off any cattle belonging to the Charans, the whole community would proceed to the spot where the robbers resided and in failure of having their property
;

26o

BHAT
Frequent instances occurred of a

PART

restored would cut off the heads of several of their old

men

and women.
on
fire

man

dressing

himself in cotton-quilted cloths steeped in


at the bottom,

oil which he set and thus danced against the person against whom ti'dga was performed until the miserable creature On one occasion dropped down and was burnt to ashes. a Cutch chieftain, attempting to escape with his wife and child from a village, was overtaken by his enemy when about immediately turning he cut off his wife's to leap a precipice head with his scimitar and, flourishing his reeking blade in the face of his pursuer, denounced against him the curse of In this the trdga which he had so fearfully performed.^ case it was supposed that the wife's ghost would haunt the enemy who had driven the husband to kill her.
;

II. Instances of

The

following account in

\hQ.

Rdsnidla'^
fc> fc>

is

an instance of
:

haunting

the ghost g^icidc and of the actual haunting- by /


asserted a claim

Charan

and laying
ghosts.

against the chief of Siela in Kathiawar,


to
liquidate.

which the

latter refused

The bard thereupon,

taking forty of his


intention of sitting

caste with him,

Dkarna

at

went to Siela with the the chief's door and preventing

any one from coming out or going in until the claim should However, as they approached the town, the be discharged. chief, becoming aware of their intention, caused the gates to The bards remained outside and for three days be closed. on the fourth day they proceeded to abstained from food perform tj'dga as follows some hacked their own arms others decapitated three old women of the party and hung certain of the their heads up at the gate as a garland
;
:

women

cut off their

own

breasts.

The bards

also pierced the

throats of four of their old

men

with spikes, and they took


their brains

two young
against

girls

by the

heels,

and dashed out


to

the town gate.

The Charan

whom

the

money

was due dressed himself in clothes wadded with cotton He thus which he steeped in oil and then set on fire. But as he died he cried out, burned himself to death. " I am now dying but I will become a headless ghost {Kuvts) in the palace, and will take the chief's life and
;

cut off his posterity."

After this sacrifice the rest of the

bards returned home.


'

Postans, Cutch, p. 172.

YqI.

ii.

pp. 392-394.

II

INSTANCES OF HAUNTING AND LA YING GHOSTS


On
the third

261

day

(ghost)

threw the
in

after the Charan's death his Bhut Rani downstairs so that she was very

much
less

injured.

Many

other persons also beheld the head-

phantom
set

the palace.

At

last

he entered the chiefs

head and
stones at

him trembling. At night he would throw the palace, and he killed a female servant outright.

At length, in consequence of the various acts of oppression which he committed, none dared to approach the chief's mansion even in broad daylight. In order to exorcise the Bhut, Jogis, Fakirs and Brahmans were sent for from many different places but whoever attempted the cure was immediately assailed by the Bhut in the chief's body, and that so furiously that the exorcist's courage failed him. The Bhut would also cause the chief to tear the flesh off his own arms with his teeth. Besides this, four or five persons died of injuries received from the Bhut but nobody had the power to expel him. At length a foreign Jyotishi (astrologer) came who had a great reputation for charms and magic, and the chief sent for him and paid him honour. First he tied all round the house threads which he had charged with a charm then he sprinkled charmed milk and water all round then he drove a charmed iron nail into the ground at each corner of the mansion, and two at the door. He purified the house and continued his charms and incantations for forty-one days, every day making sacrifices at the cemetery to the Bhut's spirit. The Joshi lived in a room securely fastened up but people say that while he was muttering his charms stones would fall and strike the windows. Finally the Joshi brought the chief, who had been living in a separate room, and tried to exorcise the spirit. The patient began to be very violent, but the Joshi and his people spared no pains in thrashing him until they had rendered him quite docile. A sacrificial fire-pit was made and a lemon placed between it and the chief. The Joshi commanded the Bhut to enter the lime. The possessed, however, said, Who are you if one of your Deos (gods) were to come, I would not quit this person.' Thus they went on from morning till noon. At last they came outside, and, burning various kinds of incense and sprinkling many charms, the Bhut was got out into the lemon. When the lemon began
; ;

262

BHAT
jump
about,

part

whole of the spectators praised the into the lemon into gone the lemon The possessed Tlie Bhut has he the lemon hopping about, person himself, when saw was perfectly satisfied that the Bhut had left his body The Joshi then drove the and gone out into the lemon. lemon outside the city, followed by drummers and trumpeters if the lemon left the road, he would touch it with his stick and put it into the right way again. On the track they sprinkled mustard and salt and finally buried the lemon in a pit seven cubits deep, throwing into the hole above it mustard and salt, and over these dust and stones, and filling in the space between the stones with lead. At each corner, too, the Joshi drove in an iron nail, two feet long, which he had previously charmed. The lemon buried, the people returned home, and not one of them ever saw the Bhut thereafter. According to the recorder of the tale, the cure was effected
to

the
:

Joshi, crying out

'

The Bhut has gone


!

'

by putting quicksilver

into

the

lemon.

When

man

is

attacked with fever or becomes speechless or appears to have


lockjaw, his friends conclude from these indications that he
is

possessed by a Bhut.
In another case

some Bhats had been put


prince, the

in charge,

by

the chief of a small State, of a village which was coveted

by a neighbouring

Rana
them

of Danta.

The

latter

two of his villages, and having obtained their absence by this pretext he raided their village, carrying off hostages and cattle. When the Bhats got back they collected to the number of a hundred and began to perform DJiarna against the Rana. They set out from their village, and at every two miles as they advanced they burned a man, so that by
the time they got to the Rana's territory seven or eight

sent for the Bhats and asked

to guard one or

men

had been burnt. They were then pacified by his people and induced to go back. The Rana offered them presents,
but they refused to accept them, as they said the guilt of the death of their fellows who had been burned would thereby be removed from the Rana. The Rana lost all the seven
sons

born

to

him and died


^

childless,
sin.^

and

it

was generally

held to be on account of this


Kdsindla,
ii.

pp. 143, 144.

II

THE CHARANS AS SURETIES


Such
was
the
certainty

263

attaching

to

the

Charan's

12.

The

readiness to forfeit his Hfe rather than prove false to a trust,

as sureties.

and the fear entertained of the offence of causing him to do so and being haunted by his ghost, that his security was eagerly
coveted in every kind of transaction. journey unattended by these guards,
"

No
for

traveller could

who

a small

sum

The guards, conduct him in safety.^ inflicting the most in called Valavas, were never backward their old death of grievous wounds and even causing the those in plundering men and women if the robbers persisted under their protection but this seldom happened, as the wildest Koli, Kathi or Rajput held the person of a Charan sacred. Besides becoming safeguards to travellers and
were
satisfied

to

goods, they used to stand security to the

amount of many and property were concerned, the Rajputs preferred a Charan's bond to that of the wealthiest banker. They also gave security for good behaviour, called c/idlu zdviin, and for personal attendance in court called Jidzar zdviin. The ordinary trdga went no farther than a cut on the arm with the katdr or crease the forearms of those who were in the habit of becoming security had The generally several cuts from the elbow downwards. Charans, both men and women, wounded themselves, committed suicide and murdered their relations with the most complete self-devotion. In 1 8 1 2 the Marathas brought a body of troops to impose a payment on the village of Panchpipla.^ The Charans resisted the demand, but finding the Marathas determined to carry their point, after a remonstrance against paying any kind of revenue as being contrary to their occupation and principles, they at last cut the throats of ten young children and threw them at the feet of the Marathas, exclaiming, These are our riches and the only payment we can make.' The Charans were immediately seized and confined in irons at Jambusar." As was the case with the Bhat and the Brahman, the source of the Charan's power lay in the widespread fear that a Charan's blood brought ruin on him who caused the blood to be spilt. It was also sometimes considered that the
lakhs of rupees.

When

rents

'

'

Bombay

Gazetteer,

Hindus of Gujarat, Mr. Bhimbhai Kirparam,


-

pp. 217, 219.

In Broach.

264

BHAT

PART

as

Charan was possessed by his deity, and the caste were known Deoputra or sons of God, the favourite dwelHng of the
spirit.

guardian
13. Suicide

Such a

beh'cf

enhanced the

guilt attaching to the act of

as a means of revenge.

causing or being responsible for a Charan's death.

Suicide

from motives of revenge has been practised in other countries. " Another common form of suicide which is admired as heroic in China is that committed for the purpose of taking revenge upon an enemy who is otherwise out of reach according to Chinese ideas a most effective mode of revenge, not only because the law throws the responsibility of the deed on him who occasioned it, but also because the disembodied soul is supposed to be better able than the living man to persecute the enemy." ^ Similarly, among the Hos or Mundas the suicide of young married women is or was extremely common, and the usual motive was that the girl, being unhappy in her husband's house, jumped down a well or otherwise made away with herself in the belief that she would take revenge on his family by haunting them after her death. The treatment of the suicide's body was sometimes directed to prevent his spirit from causing trouble. " According to Jewish custom persons who had killed themselves were left unburied till sunset, perhaps for fear lest the spirit of the deceased otherwise might find its way back to the old home." ^ At Athens the right hand of a person who had taken his own life was struck off and buried apart from the rest of the body, evidently in order to make him Similarly, in England suicides were harmless after death.^ buried with a spike through the chest to prevent their spirits from rising, and at cross-roads, so that the ghost might not This fear appears to have be able to find its way home. partly underlain the idea that suicide was a crime or an
offence against society and the state, though, as

Dr. Westermarck, the reprobation attaching


;

to

it

shown by was far

from universal while in the cultured communities of ancient Greece and Rome, and among such military peoples as the Japanese suicide was considered at all times a legitimate and, on occasion, a highly meritorious and praiseworthy act.
1

Wesleimarck, Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. p. 242. ^ Westermarck, ibidem, p. 248. Westermarck, ibidem, p. 246.

II

DHARNA
That condition of nnind which leads
to the taking
is

265

of

one's

own

Hfe from

motives of revenge

perhaps a

fruit

of ignorance

and

solitude.

The mind becomes

distorted,

and the

sufferer attributes the

unhappiness really caused by

accident or his

own

faults or defects to the persecution of a

malignant fate or the ill-will of his neighbours and associates. And long brooding over his wrongs eventuates in his taking the extreme step. The crime known as running amok Here appears to be the outcome of a similar state of mind. too the criminal considers his wrongs or misery as the result
of injury or unjust treatment from his fellow-men, and, careless

of his

own

life,

Such hatred of

one's kind

determines to be revenged on them. is cured by education, leading to

a truer appreciation of the circumstances and environment

which determine the course of life, and by the more cheerful And these crimes temper engendered by social intercourse. of vengeance tend to die out with the advance of civilisation. Analogous to the custom of trdga was that of Dharjia, which was frequently and generally resorted to for the redress of wrongs and offences at a time w^hen the law made
little

14-

provision for either.


sit

The ordinary method

of Dharfta

was to
from

starving oneself in front of the door of the person

whom redress was sought until he gave it from fear of causing the death of the suppliant and being haunted by his ghost. It was, naturally, useless unless the person seeking
was prepared to go to extremes, and has some analogy to the modern hunger-strike with the object of getting out of jail. Another common device was to thrust a spear-blade through both cheeks, and in this state to dance The before the person against whom Dharna was practised. pain had to be borne without a sign of suffering, which, if displayed, would destroy its efficacy. Or a creditor would proceed to the door of his debtor and demand payment, and if not appeased would stand up in his presence with an enormous weight upon his head, which he had brought with him for the purpose, swearing never to alter his position until satisfaction was given, and denouncing at the same time the most horrible execrations on his debtor, should he suffer him to expire in that situation. This seldom failed to produce the desired effect, but should he actually die
redress

266

BHAT
he

PART

while in Dharna, the debtor's house was razed to the earth

and

and

his

family sold

for

the

satisfaction

of

the

more desperate form of Dkarna, only occasionally resorted to, was to erect a large pile of wood before the house of the debtor, and after the customary application for payment had been refused the creditor tied on the top of the pile a cow or a calf, or very frequently an old woman, generally his mother or other relation, swearing at the same time to set fire to it if satisfaction was not instantly given. All the time the old woman denounced the bitterest curses, threatening to
creditor's
heirs.

Another and

persecute the wretched debtor both here and hereafter.^

The word dharna means


'

'

to place or lay on,'

and hence

a pledge.'

Mr. Hira Lai suggests that the standing with

a weight on the head

may have been

the original form of

the penance, from which the other and severer methods were

Another custom known as dharna placing a stone on the shrine of a god or tomb of a saint. He makes his request and, laying the stone on the shrine, says, " Here I place this stone until you fulfil my prayer if I do not remove it, the shame is on you." If the prayer is afterwards fulfilled, he takes away the stone and offers a cocoanut. It seems clear that the underlying idea of this custom is the same as that of standing with a stone on the head as described above, but it is difficult to say which was the earlier or
subsequently derived.
is

that of a suppliant

original form.

As

a general rule,

if

the guilt of having caused a suicide

was at a man's door, he should expiate it by going to the Ganges to bathe. When a man was haunted by the ghost of any one whom he had wronged, whether such a person had committed suicide or simply died of grief at being unable to obtain redress, it was said of him BraJiui laga, or The spirit of a Brahman that Brahma had possessed him. boy, who has died unmarried, is also accustomed to haunt any person who walks over his grave in an impure condition or otherwise defiles it, and when a man is haunted in such a manner it is called Brahvi laga. Then an exorcist is called,
*

The above account

of

Dharna

is

taken from Colonel Tone's Letter on the

Marathas (India

Office Tracts).

II

SULKING GOING BANKRUPT


sprinkles water over the possessed man,

267

who
the

Brahm Deo

or spirit inside

him

as

if it

and this burns were burning oil.

and the exorcist orders him to leave the man. Then the spirit states how he has been injured by The exorcist asks him the man, and refuses to leave him. what he requires on condition of leaving the man, and he asks The for some good food or something else, and is given it. exorcist takes a nail and goes to a plpal tree and orders the Brahm Deo to go into the tree. Brahm Deo obeys, and the exorcist drives the nail into the tree and the spirit remains

The

spirit cries out,

imprisoned there until somebody takes the nail out, when he The Hindus think that will come out again and haunt him. the god Brahma lives in the roots of the pipal tree, Siva in
its

branches, and Vishnu in the choti or scalp-knot, that

is

the topmost foliage.


KJidtpdti.

Another and mild form of Dharna is that known as When a woman is angry with her husband on

16. Suik-

^^^^^^

account of his having refused her some request, she will put her bed in a corner of the room and go and lie on it, turning her face to the wall, and remain so, not answering when The term Khatpati signifies spoken to nor taking food.

bankrupt.

keeping to one side of the bed, and there she will remain until her husband accedes to her request, unless indeed he This is merely an exagshould decide to beat her instead. gerated form of the familiar display of temper known as sulking. It is interesting to note the use of the phrase turning one's face to the wall, with something of the meaning attached to
it

in the Bible.

was called Diwdla custom had had merchant a bankrupt. When nikdlna or going would liabilities, he his heavy losses and could not meet sit in reversing it, and place the lock of his door outside, he him. Or the veranda with a piece of sackcloth over When he wrapped round him the floor-carpet of his room. his had displayed these signs of ruin and self-abasement creditors would not sue him, but he would never be able to borrow money again. In conclusion a few specimens of Bhat songs may be given. The following is an account of the last king of Nagpur, Raghuji III., commonly known as Baji Rao
similar to that of Dhariia
:

17.

Bhat

^"ss-

268

BHAT
They made a picture of Baji Rao Baji Rao was the finest king to see The Brahmans told hes about him, They sent a letter from Nagpur to Calcutta, They made Baji Rao go on a pilgrimage. Brothers the great Sirdars who were with him, They brought a troop of five hundred horse The Tuesday fair in Benares was held with fireworks. They made the Ganges pink with rose-petals.
;

PART

Baji Rao's gifts were splendid.

His turban and coat were of brocaded silk, pair of diamonds and emeralds He gave to the Brahmans of Benares. Oh brothers the Raja sat in a covered howdah bound on an
!

elephant

Many

fans

waved over

his

How

charitable a king he

head was
1

In the above song a note of regret is manifest for the parade and display of the old court of Nagpur, English The next is a song about the rule being less picturesque. English
:

The English have taken the throne The fear of the English is great.

of Nagpur,

In a moment's time they conquer countries.

The guns boomed, the English came strong and They give wealth to all. They ram the ramrods in the guns. They conquered also Tippoo's dominions, The English are ruling in the fort of Gawilgarh.

warlike,

The

following

is

another song about the English, not


:

quite so complimentary

The English became our kings and have made


(milled) rupee.

current the kalddr


their profession,

The menials are favoured and the Bhats have lost The mango has lost its taste, the milk has lost its The rose has lost its scent. Baji Rao of Nagpur he also is gone,

sweetness,

No

longer are the drums beaten at the palace gate, Poona customs have come in. Brahmans knowing the eighteen Purans have become Christians

The son thinks himself better than his father, The daughter-in-law no longer respects her mother-in-law. The wife fights with her husband. The English have made the railways and telegraphs The people wondered at the silver rupees and all the country
;

prospered.

/UfAT

SONGS
Nerbudda
at

269

The

following

is

a song about the

Mandla,

Revva being another

name

for the river

The stream of the world springs out breaking apart the hills The Revva cuts her path through the soil, the air is darkened
;

with her

spray. All the length of her

banks are the seats of saints

hermits and pilgrims

worship her.
fall away as wood is cut by a saw bathing in her he plucks the fruit of holiness. When boats are caught in her flood, the people pray We are sinners, O Rewa, bring us safely to the bank When the Nerbudda is in flood, Mandla is an island and the people think their end has come The rain pours down on all sides, earth and sky become dark as smoke, and men call on Rama. The bard says Let it rain as it may, some one will save us as Krishna saved the people of Brindawan

On
IJy

seeing the holy river a man's sins

'

'

This

is

a description of a beautiful
is

woman

loved by her neighbours. to her and answers them not. Since God has made you so beautiful, open your litter and They say let yourself be seen He who sees her is struck as by lightning, she shoots her lover with the darts of her eyes, invisible herself. She will not go to her husband's house till he has her brought by the
beautiful

woman

But she

will let
:

none come
!

'

Government.

When
She

is

Her The The

she goes her father's village is left empty. so delicate she faints at the sight of a flower. body cannot bear the weight of her cloth. garland of jasmine-flowers is a burden on her neck, red powder on her feet is too heavy for them.
It is interesting to

note that weakness and delicacy

in a

woman
The

are emphasised as an attraction, as in English litera-

ture of the eighteenth century.


last
is

a gentle intimation that poets, like other


:

people, have to live

It is useless to adorn oneself with sandalwood on an empty Nobody's body gets fat from the scent of flowers The singing of songs excites the mind, But if the body is not fed all these are vain and hollow.
;

belly,

All Bhats recite their verses in a high-pitched sing-song


tone, which renders
it

very

difficult for their

hearers to grasp

270

BHAT
know
it

PART

II

the sense unless they a

ah'eady.

The Vedas and

all

other sacred verses are spoken in this manner, perhaps as

mark of respect and to distinguish them from ordinary The method has some resemblance to intoning. Women use the same tone when mourning for the dead.
speech.

BHATRA
LIST
1.

OP^

PARAGRAPHS
6.
7.

General notice and stntcti/re of


the caste.

Propitiation of ghosts. Religion. Ceremonies at hunting,

2.

Admission of outsiders.

3.

A rrange jnent

4.
5.

of marriages. The Counter of Posts.

8.

Superstitious retnedies.
Occupatioji.

9.

Marriage customs.

10.

Names.

Bhatra.^

primitive tribe of the Bastar State and the


'

i.

General

District, akin to the Gonds. south of Raipur ^

They numbered
'

"'"^^ ^"^ structure

33,000 persons in 1 891, and in subsequent enumerations have been amalgamated with the Gonds. Nothing is known
that they came with the Rajas of Bastar from Warangal twenty-three generations ago. The word Bhatra is said to mean a servant, and the tribe are emplo}'ed as village watchmen and household and

of the
^^^'^'

of their origin except a legend

domestic

servants.

Amnait and San


the Pit being the

They have three divisions, the Pit, who rank one below the other, highest and the San the lowest. The Pit
Bhatras,

to

Bhatras base their superiority on the fact that they decline make grass mats, which the Amnait Bhatras will do, while the San Bhatras are considered to be practically
with the Muria Gonds. Members of the three groups will eat with each other before marriage, but afterwards they will take only food cooked without water from a person belonging to another group. They have the usual
identical
set

of

exogamous
it is

septs

named

after

plants and

animals.

Formerly,
1

said,
is

they were tattooed with representations


from Bahadur

This

article

compiled

ment

Officer,

Bastar

and Mr. Gopal


Superintendent,

papers

drawn up by Rai
;

Krishna,
Bastar.

Assistant

Panda Baijnath, Superintendent, Bastar State

Mr. Ravi Shankar, Settle271

272

BHA TRA
named
after

of the totem plant and animal, and the septs the tiger and snake ate the flesh
sacrificial

of

these

animals at a

These customs have fallen into abeyance, kill their totem animal they will make apologies to it, and break their cooking-pots, and bury or A man of substance will distribute alms burn the body,
meal.
if

but

still

they

in

the

name

of the deceased animal.

In

some
will
is

localities

members of the Kachhun or tortoise sept pumpkin which drops from a tree because it
resemble a tortoise.

not eat a

considered to

But if they can break it immediately ground they may partake of the fruit, the the on touching assumption being apparently that it has not had time to

become
2.

like a tortoise.

Admis-

Outsiders are not as a rule admitted.


equal or higher caste

But a woman of

sion of
outsiders.

who

enters the house of a Bhatra will

be recognised as his wife, and a man of the Panara, or gardener caste, can also become a member of the community if he lives with a Bhatra woman and eats from her hand. should be married before puberty, and immediately available, they tie a few If flowers into her cloth and consider this as a marriage. an unmarried girl becomes pregnant she is debarred from going through the wedding ceremony, and will simply go Matches are and live with her lover or any other man. usually arranged by the parents, but if a daughter is not pleased with the prospective bridegroom, who may sometimes be a well-to-do man much older than herself, she occasionally runs away and goes through the ceremony on her own account with the man of her choice. If no one has asked her parents for her hand she may similarly select a husband for herself and make her wishes
if

3.

Arrange-

ment of
marriages.

In Raipur a no husband

girl
is

known, but

in that

case she

is

temporarily put out of caste


_

bridegroom signifies his acquiescence by until feast. What happens if he definitely marriage giving the is not stated, but presumably the young respond fails to
the chosen

woman
4.

tries

elsewhere until she finds herself accepted.

The

Counter
of Posts.

The date and hour of the wedding are fixed by an official known as the Meda Gantia, or Counter of Posts. He is a sort of illiterate village astrologer, who can foretell
the character of the rainfall, and gives auspicious dates for

II

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS
He
is

273

sowing and harvest.


a glance the

goes through some training, and

as a test of his capacity

required by his teacher to tell at number of posts in an enclosure which he has not seen before. Having done this correctly he qualifies as

Apparently the Bhatras, being unable at themselves, acquired an exaggerated reverence for the faculty of counting, and thought that if a man could only count far enough he could reckon into the future or it might be thought that as he could count and name future days, he thus obtained power over them, and could tell what would happen on them just as one can obtain power over a man and work him injury by knowing his real name. At a wedding the couple walk seven times round the sacred post, which must be of wood of the mahua tree, and on its conclusion the post is taken to a river or stream and consigned to the water. The Bhatras, like the Gonds, no doubt revere this tree because their intoxicating liquor is made from its flowers. The couple wear marriage crowns made from the leaves of the date palm and exchange these. A little turmeric and flour are mixed with water in a plate, and the bride, taking the bridegroom's right hand, dips it into the coloured paste and strikes it against the wall. The action is repeated five times, and then the bridegroom
a
Gantia.
to

Meda

one

time

count

5-

MJit"-

customs.

By this rite the does the same with the bride's hand. couple pledge each other for their mutual behaviour during married life. From the custom of making an impression of
the hand on a wall in token of a

vow may have

arisen that
to,

of clasping hands as a symbol of a bargain assented

and

hence of shaking hands, by persons who Usually the of amity and the absence of hostile intentions. hand is covered with red ochre, which is probably a substitute for
;

meet, as a pledge

blood and the impression of the hand is made This may be a on the wall of a temple in token of a vow. survival of the covenant made by the parties dipping their hands in the blood of the sacrifice and laying them on the god. A pit about a foot deep is dug close to the marriageshed, and filled with

a nut in the

mud or wet earth. The bride conceals mud and the bridegroom has to find it, and
1

Bassia

latifolia.

VOL.

II

274

BHATRA
by both
parties.

part

the hiding and finding are repeated


rite

This

may have
the

the signification of looking for children.


is

The
to

remainder of the day

spent

in eating,

drinking and dancing.

On

way home

after the

wedding the bridegroom has

shoot a deer, the animal being represented by a branch of a But if tree thrown across the path by one of the party.
a real deer happens

by any chance

to

shoot

this.

The

bride goes up to the real or

come by he has to sham deer and

pulls out the arrow,

a tooth-stick, after which he takes her in his

and presents her husband with water and arms and they On arrival at the house the bridedance home together.
groom's maternal uncle or his son lies down before the door He is asked what he wants, covering himself with a blanket. and says he will have tlie daughter of the bridegroom to wife. The bridegroom promises to give a daughter if he has one,

and
his

if

he has a son to give him

for

a friend.

The

tribe

consider that a

man

has a right to marry the daughter of

maternal uncle, and formerly if the girl was refused by The her parents he abducted her and married her forcibly. bride remains at her husband's house for a few days and
then goes home, and before she finally takes up her abode with him the gamia or going-away ceremony must be per-

6.

Pro-

pitiation of

ghosts.

The hands of the bride and bridegroom are tied and an arrow is held upright on them and some oil The foreheads of the couple are marked poured over it. with turmeric and rice, this rite being known as tika or anointing, and presents are given to the bride's family. The dead are buried, the corpse being laid on its back Some rice, cowrie-shells, a ^yjtj-^ thg head to the north. winnowing-fan and other articles are placed on the grave. The tribe probably consider the winnowing-fan to have some magical property, as it also forms one of the presents If a man is killed by given to the bride at the betrothal. The priest ties strips a tiger his spirit must be propitiated. of tiger-skin to his arms, and the feathers of the peacock and blue jay to his waist, and jumps about pretending to be a A package of a hundred seers (200 lbs.) of rice is tiger. made up, and he sits on this and finally takes it away with If the dead man had any ornaments they must all be him. given, however valuable, lest his spirit should hanker after
formed.
together,

II

RELIGION SUPERSTITIOUS REMEDIES

275

them and return to look for them in the shape of the tiger. The lari^^e quantity of rice given to the priest is also probably
spirit, lest it

intended as a provision of the best food for the dead man's be hungry and come in the shape of the tiger
satisfy
its

to

appetite

upon the surviving


priests.

relatives.
is

The
thus a
as

laying of the ghosts of persons killed by tigers

very profitable business for the

The tribe worship the god of hunting, who Mati Deo and resides in a separate tree in each
_
. . .

is

known month
a

7.

Reii-

village.

At
of All

^'"". ^^''^'

monies

at

the Bljphutni (threshing) or harvest festival in the

hunting.

Chait (March) they have a ceremonial hunting party.


the people of the village collect, each

man having
forest

bow

and arrow slung to

his

back and a hatchet on


in

his shoulder.

They spread out


animals into
this,

long net
birds.

the

and beat the

usually catching a deer, wild pig or hare,

and quails and other


pig.

They

return and cook the

game

before the shrine of the god and offer to him a fowl and a

A pit is dug and water poured into it, and a person from each house must stand in the mud. A little seed taken from each house is also soaked in the mud, and after the feast is over this is taken and returned to the householder with words of abuse, a small present of two or three pice being received from him. The seed is no doubt thus consecrated for the next sowing. The tribe also have joint ceremonial fishing excursions. Their ideas of a future life are very vague, and they have no belief in a place of reward or punishment after death. They propitiate the spirits of their ancestors on the 15th of Asarh (June) with offerings of a little rice and incense. To cure the evil eye they place a little gunpowder in water and apply it to the sufferer's eyes, the idea perhaps being that the fiery glance from the evil eye which struck him is quenched like the gunpowder. To bring on rain they perform a frog marriage, tying two frogs to a pestle and pouring oil and turmeric over them as in a real marriage. The children carry them round begging from door to door and finally deposit them in water. They say that when rain falls and the sun shines together the jackals are being married. Formerly a woman suspected of being a witch was tied up in a bag and thrown into a river or tank

s.

Super-

StltlOUS

remedies.

276

BHATRA
If

part

at various places set apart for the purpose.

she sank she

was held

to be innocent,

and

if

she floated, guilty.

In the

latter case

she had to defile herself by taking the bone of a


tail

cow and

the

of a pig in her mouth, and

it

was supposed
In the case

that this drove out the magic-working

spirit.

of illness of their children


applies

or cattle, or the failure of crops,

they consult the Pujari or priest and

make an

offering.

He

some flowers or grains of rice to the forehead of the deity, and when one of these falls down he diagnoses from it the nature of the illness, and gives it to the sufferer to
wear as a charm.
9.

Occupa-

The

tribe are cultivators

and farmservants, and practise

^'"-

shifting cultivation.

also as the

They work as village watchmen and Majhi or village headman and the Pujari or
These
officials

village priest.

are paid

by contributions of
will clean
it

grain from the cultivators.


are

And

as already seen, the Bhatras

employed as household servants and

cooking-

vessels.

Since they act as village priests,

may

perhaps be

concluded that the Bhatras like the Parjas are older residents of Bastar than the bulk of the Gonds, and they have become the household servants of the Hindu immigrants, which the Gonds would probably disdain to do. Some of them wear the sacred thread, but in former times the Bastar Raja would
invest

any man with

this for a fee

of four or

five rupees,

and

the Bhatras therefore purchased the social distinction.


find
it

They
breaks

inconvenient, however, and lay

it

aside

when proceed-

ing to their work or going out to hunt.


his thread

If a

man

10.

he must wait till a Brahman comes round, when he can purchase another. Names. Among a list of personal names given by Mr. Baijnath
the following
;

are

of

some
;

interest

Pillu,

stature

Matola, one who learnt to born in Phagun (February) Ghinu, dirty-looking Dasru, born on the Dasahra festival Ludki, one with a fleshy ear Dalu, big-bellied Mudi, a ring, this name having been
; ;

one of short Phagu, walk late

given to a child which cried

much

after birth, but

when
;

its

Chhi, nose was pierced and a ring put in it stopped crying given to a child which sneezed immediately after birth

Nunha, a posthumous child and Bhuklu, a child which began to play almost as soon as born. The above instances
;

II

NAMES
it

277

indicate that

is

a favourite plan to select the

name from
its

any

characteristic displayed

by the child soon


are
:

after birth, or
birth.

from any circumstance or incident connected with

Among names

of

women
;

Cherangi, thin
Batai,
;

Fundi, one
;

with swollen cheeks eyes

Kandri, one given to crying


;

Mahlna

(month), a child born a month late


;

one with large

Boda, one with Rupi, a girl crooked legs Jhunki, one with small eyes who was given a nose-ring of silver as her brothers had
Gaida,
fat
;

Pakli,

of

fair

colour

died

Paro^ born on a field-embankment

Dango,

tall.

names her father-in-law, mother-in-law, her husband's brothers and elder sisters and the sons and daughters of her husband's brothers and sisters.
not
call

woman must

by

their

BHIL
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
7.

2.

General notice. The Bhils a Kolarian tribe. Rajputs deriving their title to
the

Widoiv-marriage, divorce and polygamy.


Religion.

8.

land from the Bhils.


the

9.

Witchcraft

and

amulets.

3.

Historical notice.

10. 11.

Funeral

rites.

4.

General

Outram and Khdndesh Bhtl Corps.

12.

Social custojns. Appeara7ice and


istics.

character-

Siibdivisio7is.

6.

Exogamy and marriage


to)ns.

ciis-

13.
1

Occupation.

4.

Language.

I.

General
Bhils

notice.

The
tribe.

a Kolarian

An indigenous or non-Aryan tribe which has Bhll.^ been much in contact with the Hindus and is consequentlyThe home of the Bhils is the country comwell known. prised in the hill ranges of Khandesh, Central India and Rajputana, west from the Satpuras to the sea in Gujarat. The total number of Bhils in India exceeds a million and a half, of which the great bulk belong to Bombay, Rajputana The Central Provinces have only about and Central India.
28,000, practically
all

of

whom

reside in the

Nimar

district,

on the hills forming the western end of the Satpura range and adjoining the Rajpipla hills of Khandesh. As the southern slopes of these hills lie in Berar, a few Bhils are The name Bhil seems to occur for the also found there. It is supposed to be derived from first time about A.D. 600. the Dravidian word for a bow, which is the characteristic weapon of the tribe. It has been suggested that the Bhils
authorities on the Account of the Alewdr Bhils, by Major P. 11. Hendley, f.A.S.B. vol. xliv., 1875, PP- 347-385
^

The

principal

Bhils are

An

of Gujarat ; and notices in Colonel Tod's Rcyasthdn, Mr. A. L. Forbes's Rdsmala, and The Khandesh Bhil Corps, by Mr. A. H. A. Simcox,
C.S.
^78

the

Bombay

Gazetteer, vol.

ix.,

Hindus

PA in

II

RAJPUTS AND THEIR

TII'LE TO

T//J-:

LAND

279

Pygmies referred to by Ktesias (400 H.c.) and the The Bhils are recognised Phylhtae of Ptolemy (a.u. 150). as the oldest inhabitants of southern Rajputana and parts of Gujarat, and are usually spoken of in conjunction witli the
are the
Kolis,

who

inhabit the adjoining

tracts of Gujarat.
is

The
that

most probable hypotheilsis of the origin of the Kolis

they are a western branch of the Kol or Munda have spread from Chota Nagpur, through Mandla

tribe

who

Jubbulpore, Central India and Rajputana to If this is correct the Kolis would be a Kolarian the sea. The Bhils have lost their own language, so that it tribe. cannot be ascertained whether it was Kolarian or Dravidian.

and Gujarat and

nothing against its being Kolarian in Sir and in view of the length of residence of the tribe, the fact that they have abandoned their own language and their association with the Kolis, this view may The Dravidian tribes have be taken as generally probable.

But there

is

G. Grierson's opinion

not penetrated so far west as Central India and Gujarat


appreciable numbers.

in

The Rajputs
residents

still

recognise the

Bhils

as

the

former

2.

Rajputs

and occupiers of the land by the fact that some Rajput chiefs must be marked on the brow with a Bhll's 1,,, T-j 1 od blood on accession to the Gaddi or regal cushion.
.

iz-rf

their'"^ title to the

l^"d from ^^^^ ghOs.

relates

how

Rajputs, took the


"

Goha,^ the eponymous ancestor of the Sesodia state of Idar in Gujarat from a Bhil
:

At

this

period

Idar was

governed by

chief

of the

The young Goha frequented the savage race of Bhils. forests in company with the Bhils, whose habits better assimilated with his daring nature than those of the Brahmans.

He became
forest,

a favourite with

these

vena-putras or

sons of the

who resigned to him Idar with its woods The Bhils having determined in sport to and mountains. and one of the young elect a king, their choice fell on Goha
;

savages, cutting his finger, applied the blood as the badge


{tikd) of sovereignty

to his forehead.

sport was
fixes
1

confirmed by

the old forest chief.

What was done in The sequel


he slew his

on
old

Goha

the

stain

of ingratitude, for

The

Gahlot,

is

Goha.

name of the Sesodia clan, held to be derived from this See the article Rajput Sesodia

for a notice of the real origin of the

clan.

28o

BHIL
no motive
is
is

PART
in

benefactor, and

assigned

the legend for the


for the fact

deed."

The legend
the
Idar.

of course a

euphemism

that

Rajputs

conquered
is

and

dispossessed

the

Bhils

of

But

it

interesting as an indication

that they did

not consider themselves to derive a proper title to the land merely from the conquest, but wished also to show that it passed to them by the designation and free consent of the Bhils. The explanation is perhaps that they considered the gods of the Bhils to be the tutelary guardians and owners of the land, whom they must conciliate before they could hope to enjoy it in quiet and prosperity. This token of the devolution of the land from its previous holders, the Bhils, was till recently repeated on the occasion of each succession of a Sesodia " The Bhil landholders of Oguna and Undri still chief claim the privilege of performing the tlka for the Sesodias. The Oguna Bhil makes the mark of sovereignty on the chief's forehead with blood drawn from his own thumb, and then takes the chief by the arm and seats him on the throne, while the Undri Bhil holds the salver of spices and sacred grains of rice used in making the badge." ^ The

and successor, which fits in very badly with the rest of the legend, is probably based on another superstition. Sir J. G. Frazer has shown in The Golden Bough that in ancient times it was a common superstition that any one who killed the king had a right to succeed him. The belief was that the king was the god of the country, on whose health, strength and efficiency its prosperity depended. When the king grew old and weak it was time for a successor, and he who could kill the king proved in this manner that the divine power and strength inherent in the late king had descended to him, and he was
as heir

that Goha killed who had adopted him

story

the old

Bhil chief, his benefactor,

An almost similar which the Kachhwaha Rajputs took the territory of Amber State from the Mina tribe. The infant Rajput prince had been deprived of Narwar by
therefore the
is
fit

person to be king.^

story

told

of the

way

in

'

RajastJidii,

i.

p.

184.

Golden Botigh
tion

for

the

full

Ibidem,

p.

1S6.

and

illustration

of

this

explanasuper-

Reference

may

be

made

to

The

stition.

II

HISTORICAL NOTICE
uncle,
till

281

his

and

basket,

his mother wandered forth carryinc^ him in a she came to the capital of the Minas, where she

first obtained employment in the chiefs kitchen. But owing to her good cooking she attracted his wife's notice and ultimately disclosed her identity and told her story. The Mina chief then adopted her as his sister and the boy This boy, Dhola Rai, on growing up as his nephew. obtained a (cw Rajput adherents and slaughtered all the Minas while they were bathing at the feast of Diwali, after which he usurped their country.^ The repetition both of the adoption and the ungrateful murder shows the importance attached by the Rajputs to both beliefs as necessary to the validity of their succession and occupation of the land.

The
the the

position of the- Bhlls as the earliest

residents

of
in

country was also recognised by their employment


capacity of village watchmen.

One

of the duties of

this official is to know the village boundaries and keep watch and ward over them, and it was supposed that the oldest class of residents would know them best. The Bhlls worked in the office of Mankar, the superior village watchman, in Nimar and also in Berar. Grant Duff states " that the Ramosi or Bhil was emplo)'ed as village guard by the Marathas, and the Ramosis were a professional caste of village policemen, probably derived from the Bhlls or from the Bhlls and Kolis. The Rajputs seem at first to have treated the Bhlls leniently. Intermarriage was frequent, especially in the families of BhIl chieftains, and a new caste called Bhilala ^ has arisen, which is composed of the descendants of mixed Rajput and Bhil marriages. Chiefs and landholders in the Bhll country now belong to this caste, and it is possible that some pure Bhll families may have been admitted to it. The Bhilalas rank above the Bhlls, on a

3.

Histori-

level

with
in

the

cultivating

castes.

Instances

occasionally

occurred

which the children of a Rajput by a Bhll wife became Rajputs. When Colonel Tod wrote, Rajputs would
take food with Ujla Bhlls or those of pure aboriginal
all

still

descent, and

castes

would take water from


3
"*

them."*

But

1 RSjasthan, ii. pp. 320, 321. "^History of the Alardihas, i. p. 28.

gee article. Rajasthan,

ii.

p.

466.

282

BHIL
Hinduism came
to be

PART
in

as

more orthodox

Rajputana, the

Their custom of eating beef had always caused them to be much despised. A tradition is related that one day the god Mahadeo or
Bhils sank to the position of outcastes.
Siva, sick

and unhappy, was reclining

in

a shady forest

when

a beautiful a cure of

woman
all

appeared, the

first

sight of

whom

effected

his complaints.

An

intercourse between the

god and the strange female was established, the result of which was many children one of whom, from infancy distinguished alike by his ugliness and vice, slew the favourite bull of Mahadeo, for which crime he was expelled to the woods and mountains, and his descendants have ever since been stigmatised by the names of Bhil and Nishada.^ Nishada is a term of contempt applied to the lowest outcastes. Major Hendley, writing in 1875, states: "Some time since a Thakur (chief) cut off the legs of two Bhils, eaters of the sacred cow, and plunged the stumps into boiling When the Marathas began to occupy Central India oil." ^
;

A BhIl caught they treated the Bhils with great cruelty. in a disturbed part of the country was without inquiry flogged
and hanged.

Hundreds were thrown over high

cliffs,

and

large bodies of them, assembled under promise of pardon,

Their women were were beheaded or blown from guns. mutilated or smothered by smoke, and their children smashed This treatment may to some to death against the stones.^ extent have been deserved owing to the predatory habits and cruelty of the Bhils, but its result was to make them utter savages with their hand against every man, as they believed that every one's was against them. From their strongholds in the hills they laid waste the plain country, holding villages and towns to ransom and driving off cattle nor did any travellers pass with impunity through the hills except in convoys too large to be attacked. In Khandesh, during the the wars of disturbed period of Sindhia and Holkar, about A.D. I 800, the Bhils betook themselves to highway robbery and lived in bands either in mountains or in villages imThe revenue contractors were mediately beneath them.
;

Malcolm,
i.

Memoir

of

Central

(1875),
^

p.

369.

India,
"^

p.

518.

Hyderabad Census Report (1891),

An Account of the Bhils, J.A.S.B.

p. 218.

Bemrose,

Collo.,

Derby.

TANTIA BHTL,

FAMOUS DACOIT.

II

HISTORICAL NOTICE
money
in

283

unable or unwilling to spend


short time

the maintenance

of soldiers to protect the country, and the Bhils in a very

became so bold as to appear in bands of hundreds and attack towns, carrying off either cattle or hostages, for

whom they demanded handsome ransoms.^ In Gujarat another writer described the Bhils and Kolis as hereditary and professional plunderers Soldiers of the night,' as they

'

themselves said they were." Malcolm said of them, after peace had been restored to Central India :^ "Measures are in progress that will, it is expected, soon complete the re-

men who, believing themselves doomed and plunderers, have been confirmed in their destiny by the oppression and cruelty of neighbouring governments, increased by an avowed contempt for them as outcasts. The feeling this system of degradation has produced must be changed and no effort has been left untried to
formation of a class of
to be thieves
;

men to a better sense of their condition than that which they at present entertain. The common answer of a Bhil when charged with theft or robbery is, I am not to blame I am the thief of Mahadeo in other
restore this race of
' ;

'

been fixed by God.' The Bhil chiefs, who were known as Bhumia, exercised the most absolute power, and their orders to commit the most atrocious crimes were obeyed by their ignorant but attached subjects without a conception on the part of the latter that they had an option when he whom they termed their Dhunni (Lord) issued the mandates.'* firearms and swords were only used by the chiefs and headmen of the tribe, and their national weapon was the bamboo bow having the bowstring made from a thin strip of its elastic bark. The quiver was
words,
'

My

destiny

as a thief has

a piece of strong

bamboo

matting, and would contain sixty

barbed arrows a yard long, and tipped with an iron spike either flattened and sharpened like a knife or rounded like a nail other arrows, used for knocking over birds, had knoblike heads. Thus armed, the Bhils would lie in wait in some deep ravine by the roadside, and an infernal yell announced
;

their attack to the


^

unwary

traveller.^
^

Major Hendley

states
i.

The Kliandesh Bhil Corps, by A. H. A. Simcox.


2

Mr

Metnoir of Central India,


i. p. 550. Hobson-Jobson, art, Bhil.

pp.

525, 526. * Ibidem,


"

Forbes, RdsmCxla,

i.

p.

104.

284

BHIL
according to tradition
killed

that

Krishna was
against

them in was ordained that the Bhil should never again be able to draw the bow with the forefinger of the right hand. " Times have changed since then, but I noticed in examining their hands that few could move the forefinger without the
;

Mahabharata the god when he was fighting Gujarat with the Yadavas and on this
in

the

by a

Bhll's arrow,

account

it

second finger indeed the fingers appeared useless as independent members of the hands. In connection with this may be mentioned their apparent inability to distinguish colours or count numbers, due alone to their want of words
;

to express themselves."

The

reclamation and pacification of the Bhlls

is

insepar-

name of Lieutenant, afterwards Sir The Khandesh BhIl Corps was first raised James, Outram. by him in 1825, when Bhil robber bands were being hunted down by small parties of troops, and those who were willing
ably associated with the

were granted a free pardon for past offences, and given grants of land for cultivation and advances for the purchase of seed and bullocks. When the first attempts to raise the corps were made, the Bhlls believed that the object was to link them in line like galley-slaves with a view to extirpate the race, that blood was in high demand as a medicine in the country of their foreign masters, and so on. Indulging the wild men with feasts and entertainments, and delighting them with his matchless urbanity. Captain Outram at length contrived to draw over to the cause nine recruits, one of whom was a notorious plunderer who had a short time before successfully robbed the officer commanding a This infant corps soon detachment sent against him. became strongly attached to the person of their new chief and entirely devoted to his wishes their goodwill had been won by his kind and conciliatory manners, while their admiration and respect had been thoroughly roused and excited by his prowess and valour in the chase. On one occasion, it is recorded, word was brought to Outram of the presence of a panther in some prickly-pear shrubs on the side of a hill near his station. He went to shoot it with a friend, Outram being on foot and his friend on horseback searching
to surrender
; '

An

Accoimt of the Bhlls,

p.

369.

II

SUBDIVISIONS

285

When close on the animal, Outrain's through the bushes. friend fired and missed, on which the panther sprang forward roaring and seized Outram, and they rolled down the hill
together.

Being

released

from

the

claws of the furious

beast for a

moment, Outram with great presence of mind


IMills,

which he had with him, and shot the panther on seeing that he had been injured, were one and all loud in their grief and expressions of regret, when Outram quieted them with the remark, What do I and this saying long recare for the clawing of a cat ? mained a proverb among the Bhlls.^ By his kindness and sympathy, listening freely to all that each single man in the corps had to say to him, Outram at length won their confidence, convinced them of his good faith and dissipated their

drew a
dead.

pistol

The

'

'

Soon the ranks of the corps became full, and for every vacant place there were numbers of applicants. The Bhils freely hunted down and captured their friends and relations who continued to create disturbances, and brought them in for punishment. Outram managed to check their propensity for liquor by paying them every day just sufificient for their food, and giving them the balance of their pay at the end of the month, when some might have a drinking bout, but many preferred to spend the money on ornaments and articles of finery. With the assistance of the corps the marauding tendencies of the hill Bhils were suppressed and tranquillity restored to Khandesh, which rapidly became one of the most fertile parts of India. During the Mutiny the Bhil corps remained loyal, and did good service in checking the local outbursts which occurred in Khandesh. A second battalion was raised at this time, but was disbanded three
fears of treachery.

years afterwards.
to do,

After this the corps had

little

or nothing

and

as the absence of fighting

and the higher wages

which could be obtained by ordinary labour ceased to render it attractive to the Bhils, it was finally converted into police
in

1891.^

The
verted

Bhils of the Central

Provinces have
Bhils,

subdivisions, the
to

Muhammadan

now only two who were forcibly conthe


animistic beliefs and
^

5-

Sub-

Islam during the time of Aurangzeb, and

remainder,
^

who though

retaining
p.

many

The Khandesh Bhll Corps,

71.

Ibidem,

p.

275.

286

BHiL
have
as

PART

superstitions,

practically

Muhammadan
They
tad,

Bhils only

are

known

become Hindus. The number about 3000 out of 28,000. Tadvi, a name which was formerly
is

applied to a Bhil headman, and

said to be derived from

meaning a separate branch or section. These Bhlls marry among themselves and not with any other MuhamThey retain many Hindu and animistic usages, madans. Both and are scarcely Muhammadan in more than name.
classes are divided
after plants

into groups

or septs, generally
still

named

or animals to which they

show

reverence.
tree,^ will

and at their weddings the dresses of the bride and bridegroom are taken and Similarly the rubbed against the tree before being worn.
tree,

Thus the Jamania sept, named not cut or burn any part of this

after the

jdman

Rohini sept worship the


aonla
^

r'o/iau"

tree,

the Avalia sept the


^

tree,

the

Meheda

sept the baJicra

tree,

and so
into

on.

The Mori

sept worship

the

peacock.

They go

the

jungle and look for the tracks of a peacock, and spreading


a piece of red cloth before the footprint, lay their offerings of grain upon
it. Members of this sept may not be tattooed, because they think the splashes of colour on the peacock's Their women must veil themfeathers are tattoo-marks.

selves

if

they see a peacock, and


fall

they think that

if

any

member

of the sept irreverently treads on a peacock's footill.

prints he will

may
not

not tame a horse nor ride one.


or eat
fish.

kill

The Ghodmarya (Horse-killer) sept The Masrya sept will The Sanyan or cat sept have a tradition
was once chasing a
cat,

that one of their ancestors

which
the

ran for protection under a cover which had been put over
the stone figure of their goddess.
cat into stone

The goddess turned

and since then members of the sept will not touch a cat except to save it from harm, and they will not eat anything which has been touched by a cat. The Ghattaya sept worship the grinding mill at their wedThe Solia sept, whose name dings and also on festival days. is apparently derived from the sun, are split up into four the Ada Solia, who hold their weddings at sunrise subsepts the Taria Solia, the Japa Solia, who hold them at sunset
and
sat

on

it,

Eugenia jainbolana.
Soymidafebrifuga.

^ *

Phyllanthus et?iblica. Terinmalia belerica.

II

EXOGAMY AND MARRIAGE CUSTOMS


hold them
Solia,

287

who

and the Tar

when stars have become visible after sunset who believe their name is connected with cotton thread and wrap several skeins of raw thread round The tlie bride and bridegroom at the wedding ceremony.
;

Moharia sept worship the local goddess at the village of Moharia in Indore State, who is known as the Moharia Mata at their weddings they apply turmeric and oil to the fingers of the goddess before rubbing them on the bride and
;

bridegroom.

The Maoli sept worship a goddess of that Her shrine is considered to be in Barwani town. the shape of a kind of grain-basket known as kilia, and
name
in

members of the
shape, nor

sept

may

never

make

or use baskets of this


it.

may

they be tattooed with representations of

Women

of the sept are not

allowed to

visit

the shrine of

may worship her at home. Several septs have the names of Rajpiit clans, as Sesodia, Panwar, Mori, and appear to have originated in mixed unions between Rajputs and Bhils. A man must not marry in his own sept nor in the The union of families of his mothers and grandmothers. first cousins is thus prohibited, nor can girls be exchanged A wife's sister may also in marriage between two families. The Muhamnot be married during the wife's lifetime. madan Bhils permit a man to marry his maternal uncle's daughter, and though he cannot marry his wife's sister he may keep her as a concubine. Marriages may be infant or adult, but the former practice is becoming prevalent and girls are often wedded before they are eleven. Matches are arranged by the parents of the parties in consultation with
the goddess, but the caste pancJidyat
;

6.

Exo-

niTrriage

customs,

but

in

Bombay

girls

may

select their

own husbands, and they have

custom of elopement at the Tosina fair in the month of the Mahi Kantha. If a Bhil can persuade a girl to cross the river there with him he may claim her as his wife but if they are caught before getting across he is liable to be punished by the bride's father.^ The betrothal and wedding ceremonies now follow the ordinary ritual of the middle and lower castes in the Maratha country." The bride must be
also a recognised
;

Bombay

Gazetteer,
'^

Hindus of Gujarat,
article

p.

309.

See

Kunbi.

288

BHIL

PART

younger than the bridegroom except in the case of a widow. A bride-price is paid which may vary from Rs. 9 to 20 in the case of Muhammadan Bhils the bridegroom is said to When the ovens are made give a dowry of Rs. 20 to 25.
;

with the sacred earth they roast some of the large millet juari ^ for the family feast, calling this Juari Mata or the
Offerings of this are made to the family partaken of only by the members of the bride's and bridegroom's septs respectively at their houses.
grain goddess.
gods, and
it

is

No

outsider

may

even

see

this

food

being eaten.
it

The
they

leavings of food, with the leaf-plates on which


are buried inside the house, as
it

was eaten,
if

is

believed that

should

fall

into the

hands of any outsider the death or

blindness of one of the family will ensue.

When

the bride-

groom reaches

the bride's house he strikes the marriage-shed

with a dagger or other sharp instrument.

goat

is

killed

and he steps in its blood as he enters the shed. A day for the wedding is selected by the priest, but it may also take place on any Sunday in the eight fine months. If the wedding takes place on the eleventh day of Kartik, that is on the expiration of the four rainy months when marriages are
forbidden, they

make
in

little

hut of eleven stalks of juari

with their cobs

the shape of a cone, and the bride and

bridegroom walk round this. The services of a Brahman are not required for such a wedding. Sometimes the bridegroom is simply seated in a grain basket and the bride in then their hands are joined as the sun a winnowing- fan is half set, and the marriage is completed. The bridegroom the basket fan home with takes and him. On the return of the wedding couple, their kankans or wristbands are taken The Muhammadan BhIls perform off at Hanuman's temple. the same ceremonies as the Hindus, but at the end they call in the Kazi or registrar, who repeats the Muhammadan prayers and records the dowry agreed upon. The practice of the bridegroom serving for his wife is in force among both
;

classes of Bhils.
7.

Widow-

The remarriage

of widows

is

permitted, but the


first

widow

marriage, divorce and

polygamy,

She husband. rctums to her father's house, and on her remarriage they
'

any relative of her ^^^ marry ' '


'

Sorghian vulgare.

II

RELIGION

2 89

obtain a bride -price of Rs. 40 or 50, a quarter of which goes in a feast to the tribesmen. The wedding of a widow
is

held on the

Amawas

or last day of the dark fortnight of

the month, or on a Sunday.

wife

may be

divorced for
that a

adultery without consulting the pmichdyat.

It is said

wife cannot otherwise be divorced on any account, nor can

woman

divorce her husband, but she

may
all

desert
is

him and
necessary

go and
is

live

with a man.

In this case

that

that the second husband should repay to the

pensation the

with the
is

first as comamount expended by the latter on his marriage woman. Polygamy is permitted, and a second wife

sometimes taken in order to obtain children, but this is seldom if ever exceeded. It is stated that the Bhil married women are generally chaste and faithful to their husbands, and any attempt to tamper with their virtue on the part of an outsider is strongly resented by the man. The Bhlls worship the ordinary Hindu deities and the 8. Reii village godlings of the locality. The favourite both with ^'"' Hindu and Muhammadan Bhlls is Khande Rao or Khandoba, the war-god of the Marathas, who is often represented by a sword. The Muhammadans and the Hindu Bhlls also to a less extent worship the Pirs or spirits of Muhammadan saints at their tombs, of which there are a number in Nimar. Major Hendley states that in Mewar the seats or sthdns of the Bhil gods are on the summits of high hills, and are represented by heaps of stones, solid or hollowed out in the centre, or mere platforms, in or near which are found numbers of clay or mud images of horses.^ In some places clay lamps are burnt in front of the images of horses, from which it may be concluded that the horse itself is or was worshipped as a god. Colonel Tod states that the Bhlls will eat of nothing white in colour, as a white sheep or goat and their grand adjuration is By the white ram.' ^ Sir

number

'

is by the dog. The Major Hendley that they considered it of little use to go on worshipping their own gods, as the power of these had declined since the English became supreme. They thought the strong English gods were too much for

A. Lyall

says that their principal oath

Bhil sepoys told

Loc.

cit.

p.

347. Asiatic Studies, ist series,

Western India.

p.

174.

VOL.

II

290

BHIL

PART

9.

craft

Witchand

amulets

weak deities of their country, hence they were desirous of embracing Brahmanism, which would also raise them in the social scale and give them a better chance of promotion in regiments where there were Brahman officers. They wear charms and amulets to keep off evil spirits the charms are generally pieces of blue string with seven knots in them, which their witch- finder or Badwa ties, the knots were sometimes reciting an incantation on each covered with metal to keep them undefiled and the charms were tied on at the Holi, Dasahra or some other festival.^
the
;
;

In

Bombay

the Bhlls

still

believe in witches as the agents

If a man was of any misfortunes that may befall them. some woman had bewitched him, the thought sick and woman was thrown into stream or swung a suspected broke and the woman fell and If the branch from a tree. suffered serious injury, or if she could not swim across the stream and sank, she was considered to be innocent and But if she escaped without efforts were made to save her. injury she was held to be a witch, and it frequently happened that the woman would admit herself to be one either from fear of the infliction of a harder ordeal, or to keep up the belief in her powers as a witch, which often secured her a She would then admit free supper of milk and chickens. that she had really bewitched the sick man and undertake If he recovered, to cure him on some sacrifice being made. the animal named by the witch was sacrificed and its blood

order to

either from fear or in given her to drink while still warm keep up the character she would drink it, and
;

would be permitted

to stay on

in

the village.

If,

on the

other hand, the sick person died, the witch would often be driven into the forest to die of hunger or to be devoured

by wild
in

animals.""'

These practices have now disappeared


of

the Central Provinces, though occasionally murders

suspected
as
in

witches

may

still

occur.

The
is is

BhTls

are

firm

believers in omens, the nature of

which

much

the

same

among

the Hindus.

When

a Bhil
'

persistently unlucky
laga,'

hunting,

some bad

spirit

he sometimes says is causing his


'

Nat

ill-success.
352.
p.

meaning that Then he will

Asiatic Studies
Gazetteer,

1st series, p.

Bombay

Hindus of Gujarat,

302.

ri

FUNERAL KITES SOCIAL CUSTOMS


of a

291

make an image

man

in

the sand or dust of the road,

or sometimes two images of a

man and woman, and

throw-

ing straw or grass over the images set it ah'ght, and pound This he it down on them with a stick with abusive yells. Major Hendley notes that the calls killing his bad luck.^ men danced before the different festivals and before battles. The men danced in a ring holding sticks and striking them Before against each other, much like the Baiga dance. battle they had a war-dance in which the performers were To be carried on the armed and imitated a combat. shoulders of one of the combatants was a great honour, The perhaps because it symbolised being on horseback. dance was probably in the nature of a magical rite, designed to obtain success in battle by going through an imitation of
it

beforehand.

The

priests are the chief physicians

the Bhils, though most old

men were supposed

to

among know
10. Funeral
"^^^'

something about medicine." The dead are usually buried lying on the back, with the Cooked food is placed on the head pointing to the south. bier and deposited on the ground half-way to the cemetery. On return each family of the sept brings a wheaten cake to On the third day they the mourners and these are eaten. place on the grave a thick cake of wheaten flour, water in an earthen pot and tobacco or any other stimulant which
the deceased was in the habit of using in his
life.

The Hindu

Bhlls say that they do not admit outsiders "

Social

into the caste, but the

be shaved any but the water to holy some him Kazi gives and the and circumcised, If Islam. in belief profession of drink and teaches him the Bhils Muhammadan or a man is not circumcised, the Tadvi Both classes of Bhils employ will not bury his body.

Muhammadans will admit The neophyte must impure castes.

man

of

Brahmans

at their ceremonies.

The

tribe

eat almost all

kinds of flesh and drink liquor, but the Hindus


beef and the

Muhammadans

pork.

Some

Bhils

now now
will

abjure
refuse

do so. to take the skins off dead cattle, but others impure the The Bhils will take food from any caste except ones, and none except these castes will now take food from
'

Bombay

Gazetteer, vol.

xii.

p. 87.

An

Account of the Bhlls, pp. 362, 363.

BHIL
them.

imposed
12.

Temporary or permanent exclusion from caste for the same offences as among the Hindus.
t}-pical

is

Ap-

The

Bhil

is

small, dark, broad-nosed

and ugly,

pearance

and characteristics.

but well built and active.

The average

height of 128
6.4 inches.
fairly
"

measured by Major Hendley was 5 hands are somewhat small and the
those of the
excellent

feet

men The
an

legs

developed,
Bhil
is

women

being the

best.

The

woodsman, knows the shortest cuts over the hills, can walk the roughest paths and climb the steepest crags
without slipping or feeling distressed.
old Sanskrit works Venaputra,
'

He

is

often called in

child of the forest,' or Pal

These names well describe his character. His country is approached through narrow defiles (/'c?/), and through these none could pass without his permission. In former days he always levied rakhivdli or blackmail, and even now native travellers find him quite ready to assert what he deems his just rights. The Bhil is a capital huntsman, tracking and marking down tigers, panthers and bears, knowing all their haunts, the best places to shoot them, the paths they take and all those they points so essential to success in big-game shooting will remember for years the spots where tigers have been disposed of, and all the circumstances connected with their The Bhil will himself attack a leopard, and with deaths. Their his sword, aided by his friends, cut him to pieces." agility impressed the Hindus, and an old writer says
Indra,
'

lord

of the pass.'

"

13.

Occu-

pation.

Some Bhil chieftains who attended the camp of Sidhraj, king of Gujarat, astonished him with their feats of activity in his army they seemed as the followers of Hanuman in attendance upon Ram." ^ The Bhils have now had to abandon their free use of the forests, which was highl)'- destructive in its effects, and their indiscriminate slaughter of game. Many of them live in the open country and have become farmservants and fieldlabourers. A certain proportion are tenants, but very fewvillages. Some of the Tadvi Bhils, however, still own retain villages which were originally granted free of revenue on condition of their keeping the hill-passes of the Satpijras
;
'

Account of the
^

Mewar

Forbes, Rdsmdla,

Bhils, pp. 357, 3 5 8. i. p. 113.

II

B HILALA
safe for travellers.
village

293

open and
lihils

also serve as

watchmen

These are known as Hattiwala. in Nimar and the

Captain Forsyth, 1868, described the Bhils as follows: "The Muhammadan Bhils are with few exceptions a miserable lot, idle and thriftless, and steeped in the deadly vice of opiumwritingin

adjoining tracts of the Berar Districts.

eating.
reliable.

The unconverted

Bhils

are

held

to

be tolerably

When

they borrow

money

or stock for cultivation

this simple

they seldom abscond fraudulently from their creditors, and honesty of theirs tends, I fear, to keep numbers

above serfdom." ^ The Bhils have now entirely abandoned their own language and speak a corrupt dialect based on the Aryan vernaculars current around them. The Bhil dialect is mainly derived from Gujarati, but it is influenced by Marwari and Marathi in Nimar especially it becomes a corrupt form of Marathi. Bhili, as this dialect is called, contains a number of non-Aryan words, some of which appear to come from the Mundari, and others from the Dravidian languages but these are insufficient to form any basis for a deduction as to whether the Bhils belonged to the Kolarian or Dravidian race."
of

them

still in

a state

little

m- Langu
^^^'

Bhilala.^

small

caste

found

in

the the

Nimar and
and
in
is

i-

General

Hoshangabad
Central
India.

Districts

of
total

the

Central

Provinces
of

"^''^^-

The

strength

Bhilalas

150,000 persons, most of whom reside in the Bhopawar Agency, adjoining Nimar. Only 15,000 were returned from the Central Provinces in 191 1. The Bhilalas are commonly considered, and the general belief
about

may

in

their

case be accepted as correct, to

be a mixed

caste sprung from the alliances of immigrant Rajputs with

the Bhils of the Central India


those Rajput chiefs, a

not improbably Bhilwala, and

The original term was may have been applied to numerous body, who acquired small
hills.

estates in the Bhil country, or to those

who took

the daughters

of Bhil chieftains to wife, the second course being often no


1

Niindr Settlement Report,

i^y^.

2\(},

247.
Sir G. Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. ix. part iii. pp. 6-9.
'^

^ fhis article is based mainly on Captain Forsyth's Nimar Settlement Report, and a paper by Mr. T. T. Korke, Pleader, Khandwa.

294

BHILALA

part

Several Bhilala doubt a necessary preliminary to the first. families hold estates in Nimar and Indore, and their chiefs now claim to be pure Rajputs. The principal Bhilala houses, as those of Bhamgarh, Selani and Mandhata, do not intermarry with the rest of the caste, but only among themselves and with other families of the same standing in Malwa and Holkar's Nimar. On succession to the Gaddi or headship of

marked with a badge on the forehead and sometimes presented with a sword, and the investiture may be carried out by custom by the head of another house. Bhilala landholders usually have the title of Rao or Rawat. They do not admit that a Bhilala can now spring from intermarriage between a Rajput and a Bhil. The local Brahmans will take water from them and they are occasionally invested with the sacred thread at
the house, representatives of these families are
tlka or

the time

of marriage.

The

Bhilala

Rao

of

hereditary custodian of the great shrine of Siva at

Mandhata is Onkar

According to the was a Chauhan Rajpiit, who took Mandhata from Nathu Bhil in A.D. I 165, and restored the worship of Siva to the island, which had been made inaccessible to pilgrims by the terrible deities, Kali and Bhairava, devourers of human flesh. In
island in the

Mandhata on an

Nerbudda.

traditions of the family, their ancestor, Bharat Singh,

such legends

may

be recognised the propagation of Hinduism


its

and the reconsecration of the Bharat Singh is said to have killed Nathu Bhil, but it is more probable that he only married his daughter and founded a Bhilala family. Similar alliances have taken place among other tribes, as the Korku chiefs of the Gawilgarh and Mahadeo hills, and the Gond princes of Garha Mandla. The Bhilalas generally resemble other Hindus in appearance, showing no marked signs of aboriginal descent. Very probably they have all an infusion of Rajput blood, as the Rajputs settled in the Bhil country in some strength at an early period of history. The caste have, however, totemistic group names they will eat fowls and drink liquor and they bury their dead with
Rajpiit adventurers

by the

aboriginal shrines to

deities.

the feet to the north,


origin.

all these customs indicating a Dravidian Their subordinate position in past times is shown by the fact that they will accept cooked food from a Kunbi

II

MARRIAGE
;

295

and indeed the status of all except the chiefs would naturally have been a low one, as they were practically the offspring of kept women. As already stated, the landowning families usually arrange alliances among themselves. Below these comes the body of the caste and below them is a group known as the Chhoti Tad or bastard Bhilalas, to which are relegated the progeny of irregular unions and persons expelled from the caste for social
or a Gujar
families
offences.

purpose of avoiding marriages between into exogamous groups called kul or kuri, several of the names of which are of totemistic origin or derived from those of animals and plants. Members of the Jamra kuri will not cut or burn XhQjdviun ^ tree those of the Saniyar kuri will not grow sa7i-\\ers\\y, while the Astaryas revere the sona tree and the Pipaladya, the pipal tree. Some of the kuris have Rajput sept names, as Mori, Baghel and Solanki. A man is forbidden to take a wife from within his own sept or that of his mother, and the union of first cousins is also prohibited. The customs of the Bhilalas resemble those of the Kunbis and other cultivating castes. At their weddings four cart-yokes are arranged in a square, and inside this are placed two copper vessels filled with water and considered to represent the Ganges and Jumna. When the sun is half set, the bride and the bridegroom clasp hands and then walk seven times round the square of cart-yokes. The water of the pots is mixed and this is considered to represent the mingling of the bride's and bridegroom's personalities as the Ganges and Jumna meet at Allahabad. A sum of about Rs. 60 is usually paid by the parents of the bridegroom to those of the bride and is expended on the ceremony. The ordinary Bhilalas have, Mr. Korke states, a simple form of wedding which may be gone through without consulting a Brahman on the Ekadashi or eleventh of Kartik (October) this is the day on which the gods awake from sleep and marks the commencement of the marriage season. A cone is erected of eleven plants of juari, roots and all, and the couple simply walk round this seven times at night, when the marriage is complete. The
caste, for the

The

2.

Mar-

relations,

are

also

divided

"^^^'

'"^

Eugenia Jambolatia.

Bmi hint a

raceniosa.

296

BHILALA

part

remarriage of widows
is

is permitted. The woman's forehead marked with cowdung by another widow, probably as a rite of purification, and the cloths of the couple are tied

together.

The

caste

commonly bury

the dead and erect memorial the

stones at the heads of graves which they worship in

month of Chait (April), smearing them with vermilion and making an offering of flowers. This may either be a
Dravidian usage or have been adopted by imitation from the Muhammadans. The caste worship the ordinary Hindu deities, but each family has a Kul-devi or household god, Mr. Korke remarks, to which they pay special reverence. The offerings made to the Kul-devi must be consumed by the family alone, but married daughters are allowed to participate. They employ Nimari Brahmans as their priests, and also have gurus or spiritual preceptors, who are Gosains or Bairagis. They will take food cooked with water from Brahmans, Rajputs, Munda Gujars and Tirole Kunbis. The last two groups are principal agricultural castes of the locality and the Bhilalas are probably employed by them as farmservants, and hence accept cooked food from their masters in accordance with a common custom. The local Brahmans of the Nagar, Naramdeo, Balsa and other subcastes will take water from the hand of a Bhilala. Temporary excommunication from caste is imposed for the usual offences, such as going to jail, getting maggots in a wound, killing a cow, a dog or a squirrel, committing homicide, being beaten by a man of low caste, selling shoes at a profit, committing adultery, and allowing a cow to die with a rope and further, for touching the corpses of a round its neck cat or horse, or a Barhai (carpenter) or Chamar cow, (tanner). They will not swear by a dog, a cat or a squirrel, and if either of the first two animals dies in a house, it is considered to be impure for a month and a quarter. The head of the caste committee has the designation of Mandloi,
;

which Nimar.
is

is

territorial

title

borne

by several

families

in

He

receives a share of the fine levied for the

Sarni

or purification ceremony,

readmitted into caste.


is

whose business

to

when a person temporarily expelled Under the Mandloi is the Kotwal summon the members to the caste

occurA TION A ND CHA RA CTER


;

297

assemblies
is

he also

is

paid out of the fines and his office


Occupa-

hereditary.
4.

The caste are cultivators, farmservants and field-labourers, and a Bhilala also usually held the office of Mankar, a The Mankar superior kind of Kotwar or village watchman. did no dirty work and would not touch hides, but attended on any officer who came to the village and acted as a guide. Where there was a village sarai or rest-house, it was in charge of the Mankar, who was frequently also known as zamindar. This may have been a recognition of the ancient rights of the Bhilalas and Bhils to the country. Captain Forsyth, Settlement Officer of Nimar, had a
he described as proverbial for dishonesty in agricultural engagements and This worse drunkards than any of the indigenous tribes.^ judgment was probably somewhat too severe, but they are
very unfavourable opinion of the Bhilalas,

ch"rrcter.

5.

Char-

whom

poor cultivators, and a Bhilala's

field

may

often be recognised

by

its

slovenly appearance.^

A
only

century ago Sir


:

J.

Malcolm

also wrote very severely

of the Bhilalas

"

robbers

in

The Bhilala and Lundi chiefs were the Malwa whom under no circumstances
There are oaths of a sacred
those that are Rajputs or

travellers could

trust.

but
boast

obscure kind
their blood,

among

who

which are almost a disgrace to take, but which, they assert, the basest was never known to break before Mandrup Singh, a Bhilala, and some of his associates, The plunderers on the Nerbudda, showed the example. vanity of this race has lately been flattered by their having risen into such power and consideration that neighbouring Rajput chiefs found it their interest to forget their prejudices and to condescend so far as to eat and drink with them. Hatti Singh, Grassia chief of Nowlana, a Khichi Rajput, and
several

others in

the vicinity cultivated

the

friendship of

Nadir, the late formidable Bhilala robber-chief of the Vindhya

range

and among other

sacrifices

made by

the Rajputs, was

eating and drinking with him.

On

seeing this take place in

my
1

camp, I asked Hatti Singh whether he was not degraded by doing so he said no, but that Nadir was elevated."
;

Settlement

Report

(1869),

para.
Settle-

7ncnt Report.
'*

411.
^

Memoir of Central

India,

ii.

p.

Mr. Montgomerie's Ninidr

156.

298

BHISHTI
Bhishti.

PART

A small

Muhammadan

caste of water-bearers.

Only 26 Bhishtis were shown in the Central Provinces in The tendency of the lower and 278 in 1891. 1 90 Muhammadan castes, as they obtain some education, is to
1

return themselves simply as Muhammadans, the caste name The Bhishtis are, however, being considered derogatory. a regular caste numbering over a lakh of persons in India,

Many belong to the United Provinces. from Hinduism, and they combine They have gotras Hindu and Muhammadan practices. or exogamous sections, the names of which indicate the Hindu origin of their members, as Huseni Brahman, Samri Chauhan, Bahmangour and others. They prohibit marriage within the section and within two degrees of relationship on Marriages are performed by the Muhamthe mother's side. madan ritual or Nikah, but a Brahman is sometimes asked to fix the auspicious day, and they erect a marriage-shed. The bridegroom goes to the bride's house riding on a horse, and when he arrives drops Rs. 1-4 into a pot of water held by a woman. The bride whips the bridegroom's horse with a switch made of flowers. During the marriage the bride sits inside the house and the bridegroom in the shed outside. An agent or Vakil with two witnesses goes
the bulk of

whom

of them are converts

to

the bride and asks her whether she consents to marry the bridegroom, and when she gives her consent, as she always does, they go out and formally communiThe dowry is then settled, and the cate it to the Kazi. bond of marriage is sealed. But when the parents of

the bride are

poor they receive a bride -price of Rs. "i^o^ dowry. The Bhishtis worship their leather bag {inashk) as a sort of fetish, and burn incense before it on Fridays.^ The traditional occupation of the Bhishti is to supply water, and he is still engaged in The name is said this and other kinds of domestic service. to be derived from the Persian bihisht, 'paradise,' and to have been given to them on account of the relief which their

from which

they pay the

ministrations
too, the

afforded

to

the

thirsty

soldiery."

Perhaps,

grandiloquent
'

name was

applied partly in derision,

Elliott's Metnoi7-s

Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. Bhishti. of Ihe Noflh-PVestern Provinces,

i.

p.

191.

II

nmsfrri
similar
titles

299

like

given

to other menial

servants.

'I'hey

are also

known as Mashki o/ Pakliali, after their leathern water-bag. The leather bag is a distinctive sign of the Bhishti, but when he puts it away he may be recognised

from the piece of red cloth which he usually wears round waist. There is an interesting legend to the effect that the Bhishti who saved the Emperor Humayun's life at Chausa, and was rewarded by the tenure of the Imperial throne for half a day, employed his short lease of power by providing for his family and friends, and caused his leather bag to be cut up into rupees, which were gilded and stamped with the record of his date and reign in order to perpetuate its memory.^ The story of the Bhishti obtaining his name on account of the solace which he afforded to the Muhammadan soldiery finds a parallel in the case of the English army
his
:

The uniform

'e

wore
before,

Was

nothin'

much

An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind, For a piece o' twisty rag An' a goatskin water-bag

Was
With

all

the field-equipment

'e

could

find.

'is mussick on 'is back, 'E would skip with our attack. An' watch us till the bugles made Retire,' An' for all 'is dirty 'ide 'E was white, clear white, inside When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire.'-^
'

An
servant

excellent description of the Bhishti as a household


is

which the following extract


is

contained in Eha's Behind the Bungalow'^ from " If you ask Who is taken
:
:

the Bhishti

will

tell

you.

Bihisht in the Persian


is

tongue means

Paradise,

and a Bihishtee

therefore

an

inhabitant of Paradise, a cherub, a seraph, an angel of mercy. He has no wings the painters have misconceived him but his back is bowed down with the burden of a great goat-skin
; ;

swollen to bursting with the elixir of

life.

He

walks the
last

land

when

the heaven above

him

is

brass and the earth iron,

when the
^

trees

and shrubs are languishing and the


ii.

blade

Crooke's Tribes atid Castes,

p.

Ballads,
^

'

Gunga

Din.'

100.
"

Thacker and Co., London.

Kudyard Kipling, Barrack- Roooi

300

BHISHTI

PART

of grass has given up the struggle for life, when the very roses smell only of dust, and all day long the roaming dustdevils waltz about the fields, whirling leaf and grass and corn-

and round and up and away into the regions of and he unties a leather thong which chokes the throat of his goat-skin just where the head of the poor old goat was cut off, and straightway, with a life- reviving gurgle, the stream called thandha pdni gushes forth, and plant and shrub lift up their heads and the garden smiles again. The dust also on the roads is laid, and a grateful incense rises from the ground, the sides of the water chatti grow dark and moist and cool themselves in the hot air, and through the
stalk round

the sky

dripping interstices of the khaskJias tattie a chilly fragrance creeps into the room, causing the mercury in the thermometer

proud place. like the Bhishti and I man he is temperate and contented, eating bdjri bread and slaking his thirst with his own element. And as a servant he is laborious and faithful, rarely shirking his work, seeking it out rather. For example, we had a bottle-shaped filter of porous stoneware, standing in a bucket of water which it was his duty to fill daily but the good man, not content with doing his bare duty, took the plug out of the filter and filled it too. And all the station knows how assiduously he fills the rain-gauge." With the construction of water -works in large stations the Bhishti is losing his occupation, and he is a far less familiar figure to the present generation of Anglo-Indians than to their preto retreat from
its

respect

him.

As

decessors.

Origin

and
traditions.

Mahajan and Patel). A cultivating caste numbering nearly 60,000 persons in 191 1, and residing principally in the Betul and Chhindwara Districts.
(Honorific
titles,

Bhoyar/ Bhoir

The Bhoyars are not found outside the Central Provinces, They claim to be the descendants of a band of Panwar Rajputs, who were defending the town of Dharanagri or Dhar in Central India when it was besieged by Aurangzeb.
Their post was on the western part of the wall, but they gave way and fled into the town as the sun was rising, and it
This article is mainly compiled from papers by Mr. Pandurang Laksh'

man

Bakre, pleader, Betul, and Munshi Pyare Lai, ethnographic clerk.

ir

B J10 YAK

301

faces. Hence they were called lihoyar from meaning morning, because they were seen running away in the morning. They were put out of caste by the other Rajputs, and fled to the Central Provinces. The name may also be a variant of that of the Bhagore Rajputs.

shone on their
a

word

blior

is from bhora, a simpleton or timid Their claim to be immigrants from Central India is borne out by the fact that they still speak a corrupt form of the Malvvi dialect of Rajputana, which is called after them Bhoyari, and their Bhats or genealogists come from Malwa.

And

another derivation

person.

But they have now entirely lost their position as Rajputs. The Bhoyars are divided into the Panwari, Dholewar, Chaurasia and Daharia subcastes. The Panwars are the most numerous and the highest, as claiming to be directly descended from Panwar Rajputs. They sometimes called themselves Jagdeo Panwars, Jagdeo being the name of the king under whom they served in Dharanagri. The Dholewars take their name from Dhola, a place in Malwa, or from dJioL, a drum. They are the lowest subcaste, and some of them It is probable that these subcastes immigrated keep pigs. with the Malwa Rajas in the fifteenth century, the Dholewars being the earlier arrivals, and having from the first intermarried with the local Dravidian tribes. The Daharias take their name from Dahar, the old name of the Jubbulpore country, and may be a relic of the domination of the Chedi kings of Tewar. The name of the Chaurasias is probably derived from the Chaurasi or tract of eighty-four villages formerly held by the Betul Korku family of Chandu. The last two subdivisions are numerically unimportant. The Bhoyars have over a hundred kuls or exogamous sections. The names of most of these are titular, but some are territorial and a few totemistic. Instances of such names are Onkar (the god Siva), Deshmukh and Chaudhari, headman, Hazari (a leader of 1000 horse). Gore (fair-coloured), Dongardiya (a lamp on a hill), Pinjara (a cotton -cleaner), Gadria (a shepherd), Khaparia (a tyler), Khawasi (a barber), Chiknya (a sycophant), Kinkar (a slave), Dukhi (penurious), Suplya toplya (a basket and fan maker), Kasai (a butcher), Gohattya (a cow -killer), and Kalebhut (black devil). Among the territorial sections may be mentioned Sonpuria, from Sonpur,

2.

Suh-

'^^^'^^

^^^

sections.

302

BHOYAR
hill

part

and Patharia, from the


really

country.

The name Badnagrya

being derived from the town of also is members of the section connect it with Badnagar, but the the bad or banyan tree, the leaves of which they refrain from
territorial,

eating.

Two

other totemistic gotras are the Baranga and

Baignya, derived from the bdraiig plant {Kydia calycind) and Some sections have the names from the brinjal respectively. This of Rajput septs, as Chauhan, Parihar and Pan war. curiously mixed list of family names appears to indicate that
the Bhoyars originate from a small

band of Rajputs who


century

must have

settled in the District about the fifteenth

and taken their wives from the people They may have subsequently been recruited of the country. by fresh bands of immigrants who have preserved a slightly They have abandoned their old high position, higher status. and now rank below the ordinary cultivating castes like Kunbis and Kurmis who arrived later while the caste has
as military colonists,
;

3.

Mar-

nage.

probably in times past also been recruited to a considerable extent by the admission of families of outsiders. Marriage within the kid or family group is forbidden, Girls are usually as also the union of first cousins. married young, and sometimes infants of one or two months are given in wedlock, while contracts of betrothal are made for unborn children if they should be of the proper sex, the mother's womb being touched with kunku or red powder A small dej or price is usually paid to seal the agreement.
for

the bride, amounting to Rs.


oil.

with

240

lbs.

of grain,

and 8 seers of ght and


astrologer
is

At
see

the betrothal the Joshi or

consulted

to

whether the names of the

couple

make an

auspicious conjunction. of a

He
if is is

asks for the

names
to

of the bride and bridegroom, and


set

these are found


given,

be inimical another experiment is continued


is

names
union

and

the

until

obtained which

In order to provide for this astrologically auspicious. contingency some Bhoyars give their children ten or twelve

names

at birth.

If all the
in

ones of his own, and

names fail, the Joshi invents new some way brings about the auspicious

union to the satisfaction of both parties, who consider it no business of theirs to pry into the Joshi's calculations or to After the marriage-shed is erected question his methods.

MARRIAGE
the

303

be invoked to be present at the asked to come and take his seat in an earthen pot containing a h'ghted wick, the pot being supported on a toy chariot made of sticks. A thread is coiled round the neck of the jar, and the Bhoyars then place it in
family

god

must

ceremony.

He

is

the middle of the house, confident that the god has entered
will ward off all calamities during the marriage. performed by the bJidtnvar ceremony, seven earthen pots being placed in a row, while the bride and bridegroom walk round in a circle holding a basket with a lighted lamp As each circle is completed, one pot is removed. in it. This always takes place at night. The Dholewars do not perform the hJiCunvar ceremony, and simply throw sacred rice on the couple, and this is also done in Wardha. Sometimes the Bhoyars dispense with the presence of the Brahman and merely get some rice and juari consecrated by him beforehand, which they throw on the heads of the couple, and thereupon consider the marriage complete.
it,

and

This

is

Weddings

are

generally held

in

the

bright

fortnight

of

Baisakh (April May), and sometimes can be completed in a Widow-marriage is allowed, but it is considered single day.
that the

widow should marry a widower and not a


regular occupation of the Bhoyars
cultivators,
is

bachelor.
4.

The
with

agriculture,

Occupa-

and they are good


well
-

irrigation.

They
soils

growing much sugar-cane are industrious, and their


plateau Districts are

''"-

holdings on

the

rocky

of the

often cleared of stones at the cost of

much

labour.

Their

women work in the fields. In Betijl they have the reputation of being much addicted to drink. They do not now admit outsiders, but their family
that at one time they probably did so, and this laxity of feeling survives in the toleration with which they

5.

Social

names show

^^-'^tus.

readmit into caste a


outsider.

woman who
and
his

They

eat flesh

fowls,

has gone wrong with an and the Dholewars eat

pork, while as already stated they are fond of liquor.

To

house by a caste-fellow is a serious degradation for a Bhoyar, and he must break his earthen pots, clean his house and give a feast. To be beaten with a shoe by a low caste like Mahar entails shaving the moustaches and paying a heavy fine, which is spent on a

have a shoe thrown on

304
feast.

BHOYAR

part

ii

The Bhoyars do not take food from any caste but Brahmans, but no caste higher than Kunbis and Mails will In social status they rank somewhat take water from them. In appearance they are well built, and often below Kunbis. Unmarried girls generally wear skirts of a fair complexion. instead of sdj'is or cloths folding between the legs they also must not wear toe-rings. Women of the Panwar subcaste wear glass bangles on the left hand, and brass ones on the All women are tattooed. They both burn and bury right. the dead, placing the corpse on the pyre with its head to the Here they have south or west, and in Wardha to the north. a peculiar custom as regards mourning, which is observed only till the next Monday or Thursday whichever falls first. Thus the period of mourning may extend from one to four The Bhoyars are considered in Wardha to be more days. than ordinarily timid, and also to be considerable simpletons, while they stand in much awe of Government officials, and consider it a great misfortune to be brought into a court of justice. Very few of them can read and write.
;

BHUIYA
LIST OF
1

PARAGRAPHS
7
.

The

tribe

and

its

fiame.

Tribal subdivisions.

2.
3.

Distribution of t/ie tribe. Example 0/ the position 0/ the aborigines in Hi7idu society.

8.
9.
i

o.
.

E.xogamous septs. Marriage customs. Widow-marriage and divorce.


Religion.

4.
5.

The Bhuiyas a Kolarian tribe. The Baigas and the Bhuiyas. Chhattisgarh the home of the
Baigas.

1 1

12.
1

Religious dancing.

3.

Funeral
paiion.

rites

and

inheritance.

14.

Physical appearatice atid occuSocial customs.

6.

The Baigas a branch of


Bhuiyas.

the
i

5.

Bhuiya, Bhuinhar, Bhumia/ The name of a very important tribe of Chota Nagpur, Bengal and Orissa. The Bhuiyas numbered more than 22,000 persons in the Central Provinces in 1911, being mainly found in the Sarguja and In Bengal and Bihar the Bhuiyas proper Jashpur States. count about half a million persons, while the Musahar and

i.

The
and
name.

tribe
its

Khandait

castes,

both of

whom
'

are mainly derived from the

Bhuiyas, total together well over a million.

Belonghave completely forgotten their original name, and adopted this designation conferred on them by the immigrant Aryans. The term Bhuiya, however, is also employed by other tribes and by some Hindus as a title for landholders, being practically equivalent to zamindar. And hence a certain confusion arises, and classes or individuals may have the name of " In most Bhuiya without belonging to the tribe at all.
soil,'

The name Bhuiya means


soil,'

Lord of the

or

ing to the

and

is

a Sanskrit derivative.

The

tribe

^ This article is compiled partly from Colonel Dal ton's Ethnology of Bengal and Sir H. Risley's Tribes and Castes of Bengal ; a monograph has also been

furnished
pleader,

by Mr. B. C. Mazumdar, Sambalpur, and papers by

sioner, Raipur,

Mr. A. B. Napier, Deputy Commisand Mr. Hira Lai.

VOL.

II

305

3o6

BHUIYA
Chota Nagpur,"
Sir

part

H. Risley says, " there is a wellBhuiya by tribe and a Bhuiya by title. The Bhuiyas of Bonai and Keonjhar described by Colonel Dalton belong to the former category the Bhuiya Mundas and Oraons to the latter. The distinction will be
parts of

known

distinction between a

made somewhat
Bhuiya
'

clearer

if

it

is

explained that every

'

tribal

will

as

a matter of course describe

himself as

Bhuiya, while a member of another tribe will only do so if he is speaking with reference to a question of land, or desires
for

some

special reason to lay stress

on

his status as a land-

holder or agriculturist."

and Benares a caste of landBhuinhar or Babhan, who are generally considered as a somewhat mixed and inferior group of Brahman and Rajput origin. Both Sir H. Risley and Mr. Crooke adopt this view and deny any connection between Babhan appears to the Bhuinhars and the Bhuiya tribes. Mr. Mazumdar, however, be a corrupt form of Brahman. states that Bhuiya is never used in Bengali as an equivalent for zamlndar or landholder, and he considers that the Bhuinhars and also the Barah Bhuiyas, a well-known group of twelve landholders of Eastern Bengal and Assam, belonged He adduces from Sir E. Gait's History to the Bhuiya tribe. of Assa})i the fact that the Chutias and Bhuiyas were dominant in that country prior to its conquest by the Ahoms in the thirteenth century, and considers that these I am Chutias gave their name to Chutia or Chota Nagpur. unable to express any opinion on Mr. Mazumdar's argument, and it is also unnecessary as the question does not concern
further find in Bengal

We

holders

known

as

the Central Provinces.


Distribution of the
tribe

The principal home of the Bhuiya tribe proper is the south of the Chota Nagpur plateau, comprised in the Gang" The chiefs of pur, Bonai, Keonjhar and Bamra States. " call now themselves says, States," Colonel Dalton these strangely isolated families they so, they are Rajputs if be most part belongs to the The country for the of Rajputs. privileged class, holding Bhuiya sub-proprietors. They are a
;

as hereditaments the principal offices of the State,

and are

organised as a body of exercise any authority

militia.
till

The

chiefs

have no right to

they have received the tilak or

II

DISTRfllUriON OF THE TRIliE

307

of invcstituic from their powerful Bhuiya vassals. Their position altogether renders their claim to be considered Rajputs extremely doublful, and the stcjries told to account for their acquisition of the dignity are palpable They were no doubt all Bhuiyas originally they fables.

token

Members of the tribe are the household servants of the Bamra Raja's family, and it is said that the first Raja of Bamra was a child of the Patna house, who was stolen from his home and anointed Similarly king of Bamra by the Bhuiyas and Khonds.
certainly do not look like Rajputs."

Colonel Dalton records the legend that the Bhuiyas twentyseven generations ago stole a child of the Moharbhanj Raja's famil)', brought it up amongst them and made it their Raja.

admitted to intercourse with Bhuiya girls, and intimacy are the progenitors of the But they are not considered Rajkuli branch of the tribe. first among Bhuiyas because they are not of pure Bhuiya Again the Raja of Keonjhar is always installed descent. These facts indicate that the Bhuiyas were by the Bhuiyas.
freely

He was

the children

of this

oldest inhabitants of the country.

once the rulers of Chota Nagpur and are recognised as the From this centre they

have spread north through Lohardaga and Hazaribagh and into southern Bihar, where large numbers of Bhuiyas are encountered on whom the opprobrious designation of Musahar or 'rat-eater' has been conferred by their Hindu neighbours. Others of the tribe who travelled south from Chota Nagpur experienced more favourable conditions, and here the tendency has been for the Bhuiyas to rise rather than to
decline in social status.
Sir

H. Risley

states, "

States of Orissa,

Some of their leading families," have come to be chiefs of the petty and have now sunk the Bhuiya in the
"

Khandait or swordsman, a caste of admitted respectability in Orissa and likely in course of time to transform itself into

some

variety of Rajput."

The
in

^varying status of
is

the

Bhuiyas

in

Bihar,

Chota

3.

Example

Nagpur and Orissa

a good instance of the different ways

^q^Ij^qj^ of

which the primitive tribes have fared in contact with the immigrant Aryans. Where the country has been completely colonised and populated by Hindus, as in Bihar, the aboriginal residents have commonly become transformed into village

the abori-

fi^ndu"
society,

3o8

BHUIYA

part

drudges, relegated to the meanest occupations, and despised as impure by the Hindu cultivators, like the Chamars of

northern India and the Mahars of the Maratha Districts. Where the Hindu immigration has only been partial and the forests have not been cleared, as in Chota Nagpur and
the Central
Provinces,

and

tribal organisation

hierarchy of caste,

they may keep their old villages and be admitted as a body into the ranking above the impure castes but

This is the position of the below the Hindu cultivators. While, if tribes Baigas and other in these tracts. Gonds, rulers, the come only as colonists and not as the Hindus
indigenous residents

may

retain the overlordship of the soil

and the landed proprietors among them may be formed into a caste ranking with the good cultivating castes of the
Aryans.
Instances of such are the Khandaits
of Orissa, the Binjhwars of Chhattlsgarh and the Bhilalas of

Nimar

4.

The

Bhuiyas a

Kolanan
tribe.

and Indore. The Bhuiyas have now entirely forgotten their own lancruage and speak Hindi, Uriya and Bengali, according as r ^
fc>

&

>

each

is

the

dommant

vernacular of their

t-? Hmdu
1

neighbours.

They cannot
classified as a

therefore

on

the

evidence

of language

be

Munda

or Kolarian or as a Dravidian tribe.


:

^ Colonel Dalton was inclined to consider them as Dravidian " Mr. Stirling in his account of Orissa classes them among

the Kols

but there are no grounds that I know of for so As I have said above, they appear to me connecting them. to be linked with the Dravidian rather than with the His account, however, does not appear to Kolarian tribes." contain any further evidence in support of this view and, on the other hand, he identifies the Bhuiyas with the Savars Speaking of the Bendkars or Savars of or Saonrs.
;
;

Keonjhar, he says " It is difficult to regard them otherwise than as members of the great Bhuiya family, and thus connecting them we link the Bhuiyas and Savaras and give support to the conjecture that the former are Dravidian." But it is now shown in the Linguistic Survey that the In Chota Nagpur this has Savars have a Munda dialect. been forgotten, and the tribe speak Hindi or Uriya like the Bhuiyas, but it remains in the hilly tracts of Ganjam and
:

Ethnology of Bengal,

p.

140.

II

THE BHUIYAS A KG LA R /AN TRIBE

309

Savara is closely related to Kharia and Vizagapatam.' Juang, the dialects of two of the most primitive Munda The Savars must therefore be classed as a Munda tribes. or Kolarian tribe, and since Colonel Dalton identified the

Bhuiyas with the Savars of Chota Nagpur, his evidence appears really to be in favour of the Kolarian origin of the Bhuiyas. He notes further that the ceremony of naming children among the Bhuiyas is identical with that of the " Judging Mr. Mazumdar writes Mundas and Hos." from the external appearance and general physical type one
:

would be sure to mistake a Bhuiya for a Munda. Their The Bhuiyas habits and customs are essentially Mundari. who live in and around the District of Manbhum are not much ashamed to admit that they are Kol people and Bhumia Kol is the name that has been given them there The Mundas and Larka-Kols of Chota by the Hindus.
;

Nagpur

tell

us that they

first
;

established themselves there

by driving out the Bhuiyas and it seems likely that the Bhuiyas formed the first batch of the Munda immigrants in Chota Nagpur and became greatly Hinduised there, and on that account were not recognised by the Mundas as people If the tradition of the Mundas and Kols that of their kin." they came to Chota Nagpur after the Bhuiyas be accepted, and tradition on the point of priority of immigration is often trustworthy, then it follows that the Bhuiyas must be For the main distinction other than that of a Munda tribe. language between the Munda and Dravidian tribes is that the former were the earlier and the latter subsequent immigrants. The claim of the Bhuiyas to be the earliest residents of Chota Nagpur is supported by the fact that Because in they officiate as priests in certain temples. the gods is entirely primitive religion jurisdiction of the local, and foreigners bringing their own gods with them are ignorant of the character and qualities of the local deities, with which the indigenous residents are, on the other hand, well acquainted. Hence the tendency of later comers to employ these latter in the capacity of priests of the godlings ^ of the earth, corn, forests and hills. Colonel Dalton writes
:

Linguistic Survey, vol. xiv. Mtnida


2

and Dravidian Languages,


3

p.

217.

Page 142.

Ibidem, p. 141.

3 TO

BHUIYA
is

PART

" It

strange

that

these

Hinduised

Bhuiyas

retain

in

their

own hands

the priestly duties of certain old shrines to

of Brahmans. This custom has no doubt descended in Bhuiya families from the time when Brahmans were not, or had obtained no footing amongst them, and when the religion of the land and the temples were not Hindu they are now indeed dedicated to Hindu deities, but there are evidences of the temples having been originally occupied by other images. At some of these shrines human sacrifices were offered every third year and this continued till the country came under British rule." And again of " The Pauris dispute with the Pauri Bhuiyas of Keonjhar the Juangs the claim to be the first settlers in Keonjhar, and boldly aver that the country belongs to them. They assert that the Raja is of their creation and that the prerogative of installing every new Raja on his accession is theirs, and theirs alone. The Hindu population of Keonjhar is in excess of the Bhuiya and it comprises Gonds and Kols, but the claim of the Pauris to the dominion they arrogate is admitted by all even Brahmans and Rajputs respectfully acknowledge it, and the former by the addition of Brahmanical rites to the wild ceremonies of the Bhuiyas affirm and sanctify their installation." In view of this evidence it seems a probable hypothesis that the Bhuiyas are the earliest residents of these parts of Chota Nagpur and that they are a Kolarian tribe. There appears to be considerable reason for supposing that the Baiga tribe of the Central Provinces are really a branch of the Bhuiyas. Though the Baigas are now mainly returned from Mandla and Balaghat, it seems likely that these Districts were not their original home, and that they emigrated from Chhattlsgarh into the Satpura hills on the western borders of the plain. The hill country of Mandla and the Maikal range of Balaghat form one of the wildest and most inhospitable tracts in the Province, and it is unlikely that the Baigas would have made their first settlements here and spread thence into the fertile plain of Chhattlsgarh. Migration in the opposite direction would be more natural and probable. But it is fairly certain that the Baiga tribe were among the earliest if not the earliest

the exclusion

II

THE HA/GAS AND THE liHUIYAS


it.

3U

residents of the ChhattTsii^arh plain


east of
still

The

IMiaina, Bhunjia
all

and the hills north and and Binjhwar tribes who


it

reside in this country can

be recognised as offshoots
is

of the

Raigas.

In the article on Bhaina


this tribe

shown that

some of the

oldest forts in

Bilaspur are attributed to the


is

Bhainas and a chief of


to

remembered as having

ruled in Bilaigarh south of the Mahfinadi,

They

arc said

have been dominant in Pendra where they arc still most numerous, and to have been expelled from Phuljhar in The Binjhwars or Binjhals again Raipur by the Gonds. are an aristocratic subdivision of the Baigas, belonging to the hills east of Chhattlsgarh and the Uriya plain country of Sambalpur beyond them. The zamlndfirs of Bodasamar, Rampur, Bhatgaon and other estates to the south and east of the Chhattlsgarh plain are members of this tribe. Both the Bhainas and Binjhwars are frequently employed as priests of the village deities all over this area, and may therefore be considered as older residents than the Gond and Kawar tribes and the Hindus. Sir G. Grierson also states that the language of the Baigas of Mandla and Balaghat is a form of Chhattisgarhi, and this is fairly conclusive evidence of their first having belonged to Chhattlsgarh.^ It seems not unlikely that the Baigas retreated into the hills round Chhattlsgarh after the Hindu invasion and establishment of the Haihaya Rajput dynasty of Ratanpur, which is now assigned to the ninth century of the Christian era just as the Gonds retired from the Nerbudda valley and the Nagpur plain before the Hindus several centuries later. Sir H. Risley states that the Binjhias or Binjhwars of Chota Nagpur say that their ancestors came from Ratanpur twenty generations ago." But the Chhattlsgarh plain and the hills north and east of it are adjacent to and belong to the same tract of country as the Chota Nagpur States, which are the home of the Bhuiyas, Sir H. Risley gives Baiga as a name for a sorcerer, and as a synonym or title of the Khairwar tribe in Chota Nagpur, possibly having reference to the idea that
;

6.

The
^

branch
of the
"'^^^'

1 In the article on Binjhwar, it was supposed that the Baigas migrated east from the Satpura hills into Chhattlsgarh.

to

But the evidence adduced ahove appears show that this view is incorrect,
'-'

Tribes

and

Castes,

zx\..

Binjhia.

312

BHUIYA
among
It

PART

they, being

the original inhabitants of the country,

are best qualified to play the part of sorcerer and propitiate

the

local

gods.

has been suggested

in

the article on
of
is
;

Khairvvar that that tribe are a


use of the term Baiga in Chota a sorcerer

mongrel

offshoot

the
the

Santals and Cheros, but the point to be noticed here

Nagpur

for a sorcerer

and
a
If
it is

may

be taken as

practically
tribes

equivalent

for

priest of the

indigenous

deities, all

who

act in this

capacity being considered as sorcerers by the Hindus.


the Bhuiyas of Chota
possible that
tribal
it

Nagpur had the


to

title

of Baiga,

may have

been substituted for the proper


the Central
Provinces.

name on

their migration

Mr. Crooke distinguishes two tribes in Mirzapur whom he calls the Bhuiyas and Bhuiyars. The Bhuiyas of Mirzapur seem to be clearly a branch of the Bhuiya tribe of Chota Nagpur, with whom their section -names establish their identity.^ Mr. Crooke states that the Bhuiyas are distinguished with very great difficulty from the Bhuiyars with whom they are doubtless very closely connected.^ Of the Bhuiyars ^ he writes that the tribe is also known as Baiga, because large numbers of the aboriginal local priests are derived from this caste. He also states that " Most Bhuiyars are Baigas and officiate in their own as well as allied tribes in fact, as already stated, one general name for the tribe is Baiga." ^ It seems not unlikely that these Bhuiyars are the Baigas of the Central Provinces and that they went to Mirzapur from here with the Gonds. Their original name may have been preserved or revived there, while it has dropped out of use in this Province. The name Baiga in the Central Provinces is sometimes applied to members of
;

other tribes

who

serve as village priests, and, as has already

been seen, it is used in the same sense in Chota Nagpur. The Baigas of Mandla are also known as Bhumia, which is only a variant of Bhuiya, having the same meaning of lord
of the

Bhumia
'

belonging to the soil. Both Bhuiya and fact nearly equivalent to our word aboriginal,' and both are names given to the tribe by the
soil

or

are

in

Crooke,

l^ribes

and

Castes,

art.

'

Ibidem,

ail.

Bhuiyar, para.
16.

i.

Bhuiya, para. 4. - Ibidem, para.

3.

<

Ibidin, para.

II

THE BAIGAS A BRANCH OF THK BHUIYAS

313

Hindus and not originally tiiat by which its members called It would be quite natural that a branch of the Bhuiyas, who settled in the Central Provinces and were commonly employed as village priests by the Hindus and Gonds should have adopted the name of the office, Baiga,
themselves.
as their tribal designation
village
;

just as the title of

Munda

or

headman has become

the

name

of one branch of the

Kol

tribe,

and Bhumij, another term equivalent to Bhuiya,


Mr. A. F. Hewitt, Settlement Officer

of a second branch.

of Raipur, considered that the Buniyas of that District were

the same tribe as the Bhuiyas of the Garhjiit States.^

By

Buniya he must apparently have meant the Bhunjia


Raipur,

tribe of

who

as already stated are an offshoot of the Baigas.

Colonel Dalton describes the dances of the Bhuiyas of Chota

Nagpur

as follows

"

The men have each


in

a wide kind of

tambourine.

They march round


ver}^

a circle, beating these

and singing a
notes.

simple melody in a minor key on four


opposite to them with their heads
inclined, touching

covered and bodies


the Kols."

The women dance much

soldiers in line, but not holding

each other hands or wreathing arms

like
like

This account applies very closely to the Sela and Rina dances of the Baigas. The Sela dance is danced by men only w^io similarly march round in a circle, though they do not carry tambourines in the Central Provinces. Here, however, they sometimes carry sticks and march round
in

opposite directions, passing in and out and hitting their

sticks against each other as they meet, the

movement being
Similarly the

exactly like the grand chain in the Lancers.

Baiga

women dance

the Rina dance by themselves, standing

close to each other

and bending forward, but not holding each other by the hands and arms, just as described by Colonel Dalton. The Gonds now also have the Sela and
Rina dances, but admit that they are derived from the Baigas. Another point of some importance is that the Bhuiyas of Chota Nagpur and the Baigas and the tribes derived from them in the Central Provinces have all completely abandoned their own language and speak a broken form of that of their Hindu neighbours. As has been seen, too, the Bhuiyas are commonly employed as priests in Chota
'

Dalton,

p.

147.

Page 142.

su

BHUIYA

the original identity of the two tribes.^

Xagpur, and there seems therefore to be a strong case for Both the Baigas and Bhuiyas, however, have now become greatly mixed with the surrounding tribes, the Baigas of Mandla and Balaghat
having a strong Gond element. In Singhbhum the Bhuiyas call themselves Pdivan-bans The Children of the Wind,' and in connection with or Hanuman's title of Pdivan-ka-pTit or The Son of the Wind,' are held to be the veritable apes of the Ramayana who, under
' '

Tribal sub7.

di\isions.

the leadership of

Hanuman,

the monkey-god, assisted

the

Aryan hero Rama on his expedition to Ceylon. be compared with the name given to the Gonds of the Central Provinces of Rawanbansi, or descendants of Rawan, the idea being that their ancestors were the subjects of
This

may

Rawan, the demon king of Ceylon, who was conquered by Rama. " All Bhuiyas," Sir H. Risley states, " affect great

memory of Rikhmun or Rikhiasan, whom they regard, some as a patron deity, others as a mythical
reverence for the
ancestor,

the tribe.
belief

whose name distinguishes one of the divisions of It seems probable that in the earliest stage of
v\-as

Rikhmun

the bear-totem of a sept of the tribe,

that later on he was transformed into an ancestral hero, and

promoted to the rank of a tribal god." The Rikhiasan Mahatwar subtribe of the Bhuiyas in the Central Provinces the designation of are named after this hero Rikhmun Mahatwar signifies that they are the Mahtos or leaders of
finally
;

the Bhuiyas.

The Khandaits or Paiks are another subcaste formed from those who became soldiers in Orissa they are now, as already stated, a separate caste of fairly high rank.
;

The

Parja or

'

subject

people

'

are the ordinary

Bhuiyas,
'

probably those living in

Hindu tracts. The Dhur or dust of Bastar may be noted as a Parja Gonds Gonds, and the The Rautadi are a territorial parallel in nomenclature. The group, taking their name from a place called Raotal. Rautadi, taking Khandaits practise hypergamy with the
daughters from them, but not giving their daughters to them. The Pabudia or Madhai are the hill Bhuiyas, and are the
1

The

question of the relation of the

Census Superintendent,

United

Pro-

Baiga tribe to Mr. Crooke's Bhuiyars was first raised by Mr. E. A. H. Blunt,

II

TRIBAL SUBDIVISIONS

315

Dalton writes most wild and backward portion of the tribe. " They arc not bound to fi;4ht for them in Keonjhar the Raja, though they occasionally take up arms against him. Their duty is to attend on him and carry his loads when he travels about, and so long as they are satisfied with his person and his rule, no more willing or devoted subjects could be found. They arc then in Keonjhar, as in Bonai, a race whom you cannot help liking and taking an interest in from the primitive simplicity of their customs, their amenability and their anxiety to oblige but unsophisticated as they are they wield an extraordinary power in Keonjhar, and when they take it into their heads to use that power, the country may be said to be governed by an oligarchy composed of the sixty chiefs of the Pawri Desh, the Bhuiya Highlands. A knotted string passed from village to village in the name of the sixty chiefs throws the entire country into commotion, and the order verbally communicated in connection with it is as implicitly obeyed as if it emanated from the most potent despot." This knotted string is known as GnntJii. The Pabudias say that their ancestors were twelve brothers belonging to Keonjhar, of whom eight went to an unknown country, while the remaining four divided among themselves all the territory of which they had knowledge, this being comprised in the four existing states of Keonjhar, Bamra, Palahara and Bonai. Any Pabudia who takes up his residence permanently beyond the boundaries of these four states is considered to lose his caste, like Hindus in former times who went to dwell in the foreign country beyond the Indus.^ But if the wandering Pabudia returns in two years, and proves that he has not drunk water from any other caste, he is taken back into the fold. Other subdivisions are the Kati or Khatti and the Bathudia, these last being an inferior group who are said to be looked down on because they have taken food from other low castes. No doubt they are really
of
: ;

the offspring of irregular unions.


In Raigarh the Bhuiyas appear to have no
divisions.

exogamous

s.

Exo-

they wish to arrange a marriage they compare the family gods of the parties, and if these are not
identical

When

^^^^

and there
1

is

no recollection of a common ancestor

Mr. Mazunidar's monograph.

3i6
for three generations, the

BHUIYA
union
is

PART

In Sambalpur, Bhuiyas are divided into the following twelve septs Thakur, or the clan of royal blood Saont, from sdmanta, a viceroy Padhan, a village

permitted.

however, Mr.

Mazumdar

states, all
:

headman
umbrella

Naik, a military leader

Kalo, a wizard or priest

Dehri, also a priest


;

Chatria, one who carried the royal ; Sahu, a moneylender Majhi, a headman Behra, manager of the household Amata, counsellor and Dand;

The Dehrin sept still worship the gods on behalf of the tribe. Marriage is adult, but the more civilised Bhuiyas are gradually adopting Hindu usages, and parents arrange matches for their children while they are still young. Among the Pabudias some primitive customs survive. They have the same system as the Oraons, by which all the bachelors of the village sleep in one large dormitory this is known as Dhangarbasa, dhdngar meaning a farmservant or young man, or Mandarghar, the house of the drums, because " Some villages," Colonel these instruments are kept in it. Dalton states, " have a Dhangaria basa, or house for maidens, which, strange to say, they are allowed to occupy without any one to look after them. They appear to have very great liberty, and slips of morality, so long as they are confined to the tribe, are not much heeded." This intimacy between boys and girls of the same village does not, however, commonly end in marriage, for which a partner should be sought from another village. For this purpose the girls go in a body, taking with them some ground rice decorated
sena, a police official.
village
;

with flowers.
water, as

They

lay this before the elders of the village


'

they have entered, saying,

Keep

this or

throw

it

into the

you prefer.' The old men pick up the flowers, placing them behind their ears. In the evening all the boys of the village come and dance with the girls, with intervals for courtship, half the total number of couples dancing and sitting out alternately. This goes on all night, and in the morning any couples who have come to an understanding run away together for a day or two. The boy's father niust present a rupee and a piece of cloth to the girl's mother, and
the marriage
is

considered to be completed.

Among

the Pabudia or

Madhai Bhuiyas the

bride-price

II

RKLIGION
father

317

consists of
girl's

two bullocks or cows, one of which is given to the and the other to her brother. The boy's father makes the proposal for marriage, and the consent of the girl is necessary. At the wedding turmeric and rice are offered to the sun some rice is then placed on the girl's head and turmeric rubbed on her body, and a brass ring is placed on her finger. The bridegroom's father says to him, " This girl is ours now if in future she becomes one-eyed, lame or deaf, she will still be ours." The ceremony concludes with the usual feast and drinking bout. If the boy's father cannot afford the bride-price the couple sometimes run away from home for two or three days, when^ their parents go in search of them and they are brought back and married in the boy's
;
:

house.

A
her.

widow

is

often taken

by the younger brother of the


is

10.

Widow-

deceased husband, though no compulsion

exerted over

^rid"^^^
divorce,

because the Bhuiyas have the survival of fraternal polyandry, which consists in allowis

But the match

common

ing unmarried younger brothers to have access to an elder

Divorce is allowed for misconduct on the part of the wife or mutual disagreement. The Bhuiyas commonly take as their principal deity the n. Reiispirit of the nearest mountain overlooking their village, and S'"'
brother's wife during his lifetime.^

make

offerings to

it

of butter, rice and fowls. of the

In April they

They venerate the sun as Dharam Deota, but no offerings are made to Nearly all Bhuiyas worship the cobra, and some of him.
present the
first-fruits

mango

harvest.

them

call

it

their
will

from it. swear by


Devi,

They
it.

mother and think they are descended not touch or kill a cobra, and do not

In Rairakhol they venerate a goddess,

Rambha

who may

be a corn-goddess, as the practice of burning

down
for

successive patches of jungle and sowing seed on each two or three years is here known as rambha. They think that the sun and moon are sentient beings, and that fire and lightning are the children of the sun, and the stars the children of the moon. One day the moon invited the sun to dinner and gave him very nice food, so that the sun asked what it was. The moon said she had cooked her own children, and on this the sun went home and cooked all
^

From Mr. Mazumdar's monograph.

3i8

BHUIYA
and
ate them,

PART
is

his children

and and

this

the reason

why
fire,

there

are no stars during the day.

But

his eldest son,

went

and hid

in

a rengal

tree,

his daughter,

the lightning,

darted hither and thither so that the sun could not catch And when night came again, and the stars came out, her.
her,

how the moon had deceived him and cursed saying that she should die for fifteen days in every And this is the reason for the waxing and waning month.
the sun saw

of the moon.
in a

Ever since

this

event

fire

has remained hidden

rengal tree, and

two pieces of its the Bhuiya explanation of the production of


friction of

when the Bhuiyas want him they rub wood together and he comes out. This is
fire

from the

wood.

In the month of Kartik (October), or the next month, they bring from the forest a branch of the karin tree and venerate it and perform the karma dance in front of it.

14. Physi-

dance will cause the and the mahua to Wednesday Monday, and Friday bear a full crop of fruit. are considered the proper days for worshipping the deities, and children are often named on a Friday. The dead are either buried or burnt, the corpse being placed always with the feet pointing to its native village. On the tenth day the soul of the dead person is called back But if a man is killed by a tiger or by falling to the house. from a tree no mourning is observed for him, and his soul is To perish from snake-bite is considered not brought back. a natural death, and in such cases the usual obsequies are This is probably because they revere the cobra awarded. The Pabudia Bhuiyas throw four to as their first mother. eight annas' worth of copper on to the pyre or into the grave, and if the deceased had a cow some ghi or melted butter. No division of property can take place during the lifetime of either parent, but when both have died the children divide the inheritance, the eldest son taking two shares and the others one equal share each. Colonel Dalton describes the Bhuiyas as, " A darkthat
this

They think karma tree,

worship and

the mango, the

jack-fruit

cai appear-

ance and
occupation,

race, with black, straight hair, bfown, well -proportioned o x 1 plentiful on the head, but scant on the face, of middle height, figures well knit and capable of enduring great fatigue, but
>

ri

lUWIJA
likt>

319
tliaii
i)re.seiitiiii^

li^ht-fnimcd

the lUiulu rather

the usual

dress is muscuhir development of says that the scanty, and in the Tributary States Dalton

the

hillman."

Their

men and women


This

all

wear dresses of brown cotton


is

cloth.

may
in in

be because white

a very conspicuous colour in


beads, and are dispractise tattooini^,

the forests.
tinctive

They wear ornaments and that neither men nor women


some
localities

though

this

rule

is

not observed by the

two

To keep themselves warm at night they kindle and sleep between them, and this custom has given Wherever you see a Bhuiya he always rise to the saying, In Bamra the Bhuiyas still practise shifting has a fire.' cultivation, for which they burn the forest growth from the This method hillsides and sow oilseeds in the fresh soil. They obtain of agriculture is called locally Khasrathumi. their lands free from the Raja in return for acting as luggage In Bamra they will not serve as farmporters and coolies. servants or labourers for hire, but elsewhere they are more
women.
fires
'

docile.

A woman

divorced for adultery

to caste mtercourse.

Her parents

TT

11 take her

is

not again admitted


1

'^S-

Social

-11

customs.

to their village,

where she has to live in a separate hut and earn her own If any Bhuiya steals from a Kol, Ganda or livelihood. Ghasia he is permanently put out of caste, while for killing
a

cow the period of expulsion


is

is

twelve years.

of the Bhuiyas
as soldiers, signature,

a sword, in reference to their

The emblem employment

and

this

they affix to documents

in place of their

caste

Mihir, Mehar. Uriya country. In 1901 the numbered persons, Bhulias but with the transfer of 26,000 Sambalpur and the Uriya States to Bengal this figure has A curious fact about the caste is been reduced to 5000. domiciled that though solely in the Uriya territories, many families belonging to it talk Hindi in their own houses. According to one of their traditions they immigrated to this part of the country with the first Chauhan Raja of Patna, and it may be that they are members of some
of

Bhulia,^ Bholia, Bhoriya, Bholwa,

weavers

in

the

This

article is

compiled from a paper taken by Mr. Hira Lai

at

Sonpur.

320

BHULIA
who have
the

PART

northern caste
to

forgotten their origin and taken

fresh

calling in

land of their

adoption.

The

Koshtas of Chhattisgarh have a subcaste called Bhoriya, and possibly the Bhulias have some connection with these. The caste sometimes call themselves Devang, and Devang

Devangan is the name of another subcaste of Koshtis. Various local derivations of the name are current, generally connecting it with bhiilna, to forget. The Bhulias occupy a higher rank than the ordinary weavers, corresponding with that of the Koshtis elsewhere, and this is to some extent considered to be an unwarranted pretension. Thus " Formerly a son was born from a one saying has it at that time none were aware of his Chandal woman descent or rank, and so he was called Bhulia (one who is He took the loom in his hands and became forgotten). the brother-in-law of the Ganda." The object here is obviously to relegate the Bhulia to the same impure status Again the Bhulias affect the honorific title as the Ganda. " Why of Meher, and another saying addresses them thus do you call yourself Meher ? You make a hole in the ground and put your legs into it and are like a cow with foot-and-mouth disease struggling in the mud." The allusion here is to the habit of the weaver of hollowing out a hole for his feet as he sits before the loom, while cattle with foot-and-mouth disease are made to stand in mud to
or
:

cool

and cleanse the

feet.

The
Bhulias,

caste have

no subcastes, except that


is

in

Kalahandi
intermarry.

a degraded section

recognised

who

are called Sanpara


to

and with
is

whom
little

the others

refuse

These
illicit

are, there

reason to doubt, the progeny of

unions. They say that they have two gotras, Nagas But these from the cobra and Kachhap from the tortoise. have only been adopted for the sake of respectability, and exercise no influence on marriage, which is regulated by a The names number of exogamous groups called vansa. derived from villages or vansas are usually either of the (tiger) and are titles or nicknames. Two of them, Bagh Kumhar Kimir (crocodile), are totemistic, while two more, (potter) and Dhuba (washerman), are the names of other
castes.

Examples

of titular

names

are

Bankra (crooked).

II

niruijA

321

Ranjujha (warrior), Kodjit (one who has conquered a score


of people) and others.

The

territorial

names

arc derived

from those of villages where the caste reside at present. Marriage within the vansa is forbidden, but some of the vansas have been divided into bad and san, or great and small, and members of these may marry with each other, the subdivision having been adopted when the original group became so large as to include persons who were The binding portion of the practically not relations. wedding ceremony is that the bridegroom should carry the bride in a basket seven times round the honi or sacrificial If he cannot do this, the girl's grandfather carries fire.

them

both.

After the ceremony the pair return to the

bridegroom's village, and are made to sleep on the same bed, some elder woman of the family lying between them.
After a few days the
girl

goes back to her parents and does


she
attains

not rejoin her husband until

maturity.

The

remarriage of widows is permitted, and in Native States is not less costly to the bridegroom than the regular ceremony. In Sonpur the suitor must proceed to the Raja and pay

him twenty rupees

for his permission,

which

is

given in the

Similar sums are paid shape of a present of rice and nuts. parents of the girl, and the to the caste -fellows and the
Raja's rice and nuts are then placed on the heads of the

be effected at the instance of the husband or the wife's parents on the mere ground of incompatibility of temper. The position of
couple,
wife.

who become man and

Divorce

may

that is, they the caste corresponds to that of the Koshtas rank below the good cultivating castes, but above the menial
;

and
pig,

servile classes.

and drink
is

castes

and the flesh of wild one of the impure the only offence entailing permanent expulsion
eat fowls
liquor.

They

liaison with

from
of a

social intercourse.

curious rule

is

that in the case

going wrong with a man of the caste, the man only is temporarily outcasted and forced to pay a fine on read mission, while the woman escapes without penalty. They They employ Brahmans for ceremonial purposes. are considered proverbially stupid, like the Koris in the One saying about northern Districts, but very laborious.

woman

them

is

"
II

The Kewat

catches

fish

but himself eats crabs,

VOL.

322

BHUNJIA

PART

and the BhuHa weaves loin-cloths but himself wears only and another " A BhuHa who is idle is as useless a rag " as a confectioner's son who eats sweetmeats, or a money; :

lender's son with a generous disposition, or a cultivator's son

who
I.

is

extravagant."

Origin

Bhuiljia.^

small

Dravidian

tribe

residing

in

the

traditions.

Bindranawagarh and Khariar zamindaris of the Raipur The tribe District, and numbering about 7000 persons. was not returned outside this area in 191 1, but Sherring mentions them in a list of the hill tribes of the Jaipur zamlndari of Vizagapatam, which touches the extreme south The Bhunjias are divided into two of Bindranawagarh. branches, Chaukhutia and Chinda, and the former have the On one occasion a Bhatra following legend of their origin. Gond named Bachar cast a net into the Pairi river and He threw the stone back into the river brought out a stone. and cast his net again, but a second and yet a third time the stone came out. So he laid the stone on the bank of the river and went back to his house, and that night he dreamt that the stone was Bura Deo, the great God of the Gonds. If this dream be true let me draw in a deer in So he said my net to-morrow for a sign and the next day the body The stone then called upon of a deer appeared in his net. the Gond to worship him as Bura Deo, but the Gond demurred to doing so himself, and said he would provide a substitute as a devotee. To this Bura Deo agreed, but said that Bachar, the Gond, must marry his daughter to the
'
:

'

substituted worshipper.
for

The Gond then

set out to search

somebody, and in the village of Lafandi he found a Halba of the name of Konda, who was a cripple, deaf and dumb, blind, and a leper. He brought Konda to the stone, and on reaching it he was miraculously cured of all his ailments and gladly began to worship Bura Deo. He afterwards married the Gond's daughter and they had a son called Chaukhutia Bhunjia, who was the ancestor of the Chaukhutia division of the tribe. Now the term Chaukhutia in
This article is based on papers by Hira Lai, Mr. Gokul Prasad, Tahsildar, Dhamtari, Mr. Pyare L^l
^

Misra

of

the

Mr.

Munshi Ganpati Bindranawagarh

Gazetteer office, and Giri, Superintendent,


estate.

II

ORTGIN

AND TKAP/TIONS
and the story
related

323

Chhattisc^arhi sit^nifics a bastard,


is

above

obviously intended to signify that the Chaukhutia J^hunjias

It is mixed descent from the Gonds and Halbas. end in view that the Gond is made to decline to worship the stone himself and promise to find a substitute, an incident which is wholly unnatural and is The Chaukhutia subsimply dragged in to meet the case. tribe especially worship Bura Deo, and sing a song relating to the finding of the stone in their marriage ceremony as

are of

clearly with this

follows

Johdr, johar Thdkur Dcota, Tiiniko Idgon,

Do

7natia

ghar men

dine tumhdre nam.

Johdr, johdr Konda, Do ntatia ghar men,

Tumko
etc.

Idgon,

Johdr, johdr Bdchar Jhdkar Tumko Idgoji, etc. Johdr, johdr Bftdha Kdja Tumko Idgon, etc. Johdr, johdr Lafandi Mdti Tumko Idgon, etc. Johdr, johdr Anand Mdti Tumko Idgon, etc.

which
I

may

be rendered

In thy

make obeisance to thee, O Thakur Deo, I bow down to thee name have I placed two pots in my house (as a mark
!

of

respect).

make obeisance to thee, O Konda Pujari, I bow down name have I placed two pots in my house. I make obeisance to thee, O Bachar Jhakar In thy name have I placed two pots in my house. I make obeisance to thee, O Biadha Raja In thy name have I placed two pots in my house. I make obeisance to thee, O Soil of Lafandi In thy name have I placed two pots in my house. I make obeisance to thee, O Happy Spot In thy name have I placed two pots in my house.
I

to thee

In thy

Thakur Halba Budha Raja, priest, and Bachar the Gond who cast the net. otherwise Singh Sei, is the Chief who was ruling in

The song refers Deo is the title given

to the incidents in the story.


to the divine stone,

Konda

is

the

Bindranawagarh at the time, Lafandi the village where Konda Halba was found, and the Anand Mati or Happy Spot is The that where the stone was taken out of the river. majority of the sept-names returned are of Gond origin, and there seems no doubt that the Chaukhutias are, as the story It is says, of mixed descent from the Halbas and Goods.

324

BHUNJIA
all sides,

PART

noticeable, however, that the Bhunjias,

Gonds on

though surrounded by do not speak Gondi but a dialect of Hindi,

which Sir G. Grierson considers to resemble that of the Halbas, and also describes as " A form of Chhattlsgarhi which is It is a jargon spoken by practically the same as Baigani. Binjhwars, Bhumias and Bhunjias of Raipur, Raigarh, The Sarangarh and Patna in the Central Provinces." ^ Binjhwars also belong to the country of the Bhunjias, and one or two estates close to Bindranawagarh are held by members of this tribe. The Chinda division of the Bhunjias have a saying about themselves: Chinda Raja, BJiunjia Pdik^ and they say that there was originally a Kamar ruler of The Bindranawagarh who was dispossessed by Chinda. Kamars are a small and very primitive tribe of the same Pdik means a foot-soldier, and it seems therefore locality. that the Bhunjias formed the levies of this Chinda, who may The term very probably have been one of themselves. Bhunjia may perhaps signify one who lives on the soil, from The word Birjia, bhuni, the earth, and jia, dependent on. a synonym for Binjhwar, is similarly a corruption of bewar jia, and means one who is dependent on dahia or patch ^ Sir H. Risley gives Birjia, Binjhia and Binjhwar cultivation. as synonymous terms, and Bhunjia may be another corruption The Binjhwars are a Hinduised offshoot of the same sort. of the ancient Baiga tribe, who may probably have been in
'

possession of the
as the term Baiga

hills

bordering the Chhattlsgarh plain as


for a village priest

well as of the Satpura range before the advent of the Gonds,


is

employed
It

over a large

part of this area.

thus seems not improbable that the

2.

Sub-

Chinda Bhunjias may have been derived from the Binjhwars, and this would account for the fact that the tribe speaks As already seen, the a dialect of Hindi and not Gondi. Chaukhutia subcaste appear to be of mixed origin from the Gonds and Halbas, and as the Chindas are probably descended from the Baigas, the Bhunjias may be considered to be an offshoot from these three important tribes, Of the two subtribes already mentioned the Chaukhutia
'

divisions.

Dialects, furnished
for the census.

P'rom the Index of Languages and by Sir G. Grierson

Tribes

and

Castes of Bengal, art.

Binjhia.

II

MARRIAGE
As

325

are recognised to be of illegitimate descent.

a consequence

of this they strive to obtain increased social estimation by

a ridiculously strict observance of the rules of ceremonial If any man not of his own caste touches the hut purity.

where a Chaukhutia cooks his food, it is entirely abandoned At the time of the census they and a fresh one built. threatened to kill the enumerator if he touched their huts Pegs had therefore to be to affix the census number. in front of the huts and marked little ground a the planted in Chaukhutia will not eat food The numbers. with their community, and this his own members of cooked by other bastard descent, among those of is a restriction found only neighbour's parentage. suspicious his of where every man is He will not take food from the hands of his own daughter as soon as the ceremony is over her after she is married belongings are at once removed from the hut, and even the floor beneath the seat of the bride and bridegroom during the marriage ceremony is dug up and the surface earth Only when it thrown away to avoid any risk of defilement. is remembered that these rules are observed by people who do not wash themselves from one week's end to the other, and wear the same wisp of cloth about their loins until it comes to pieces, can the full absurdity of such customs as the But the tendency appears to be of above be appreciated.
;

the

same kind

as the intense desire for respectability so often

noticed

among

the lower classes in England.


is

The Chindas,
about
3-

whose pedigree

more

reliable, are far less particular

their social purity.

As already stated, the exogamous divisions of the Among Bhunjias are derived from those of the Gonds. the Chaukhutias it is considered a great sin if the signs of puberty appear in a girl before she is married, and to avoid
'

i^^ar'

'"^

no husband has been found for her, they perform a the girl walks seven or Arrow Marriage times round an arrow fixed in the ground, and is given away without ceremony to the man who by previous arrangement has brought the arrow. If a girl of the Chinda group goes wrong with an outsider before marriage and becomes pregnant, the matter is hushed up, but if she is a Chaukhutia it is said that she is finally expelled from the community,
this, if

Kand Byah

'

'

'

326

BHUNJIA

PART

same severe course being adopted even when she is not pregnant if there is reason to suppose that the offence has A proposal for marriage among the been committed. Chaukhutias is made on the boy's behalf by two men who are known as Mahalia and Jangalia, and are supposed to represent a Nai (barber) and Dhlmar (water-carrier), though As among the they do not actually belong to these castes. Gonds, the marriage takes place at the bridegroom's village, and the Mahalia and Jangalia act as stewards of the ceremony, and are entrusted with the rice, pulse, salt, oil and other provisions, the bridegroom's family having no function The provisions in the matter except to pay for them. are all stored in a separate hut, and when the time for the feast has come they are distributed raw to all the The guests, each family of whom cook for themselves. reason for this is, as already explained, that each one
the
is

afraid of losing status

the tribe. the

The marriage
post,

sacred

by eating with other members of is solemnised by walking round and the ceremony is conducted by a
as Dinwari, a

hereditary priest

known

member

of the tribe,

whose line it is believed will never become extinct. Among the Chinda Bhunjias the bride goes away with her husband, and in a short time returns with him to her parents' house for a few days, to make an offering to the deities. But the Chaukhutias will not allow her, after she has lived in her father-in-law's house, to return to her home. In future if she goes to visit her parents she must stay outside the house and cook her food separately. Widow-marriage and divorce are permitted, but a husband will often overlook transgressions on the part of his wife and only put her away when her conduct has become an open scandal. In such a case he will either quietly leave house and wife and settle alone in another village, or have his wife informed by means
of a neighbour that
if

she does not leave the village he will

do so. It committee between a


is

is

not the custom to bring cases before the tribal


to

or

claim
his

damages.

A
man

special

tie

exists

man and

sister's children.

The marriage
or
will

of

a brother's son or daughter

to a sister's daughter

son

considered the most suitable.


children .to eat

not allow his

sister's

the leavings of food on his plate,

II

RELIGIONSOCIAL RULES
his

327
is

though

own

children

may do

so.

This

special

token of respect to his sister's children. He will not chastise his sister's children, even though they deserve it. And it is considered especially meritorious for a man to pay for the wedding ceremony of his sister's son or daughter. Every third year in the month of Chait (March) the
tribe offer

4-

Reii-

a goat

and a cocoanut to Mata, the deity of

^'

cholera

and smallpox.

They bow
is

daily to the sun with

folded hands, and believe that he

of special assistance to

them

in the liquidation of debt,

which the Bhunjias consider


for his

a primary obligation.
offer a

When

a debt has been paid off they

cocoanut to the sun as a mark of gratitude

assistance.

They

also

They

call

the tortoise

pay great reverence to the tortoise. the footstool (jpidha) of God, and

have adopted the Hindu theory that the earth is supported by a tortoise swimming in the midst of the ocean. Professor Tylor explains as follows how this belief arose ^ " To man in the lower levels of science the earth is a flat plain over which the sky is placed like a dome as the arched upper shell of the tortoise stands upon the flat plate below,
:

and

this is

why
sit

the tortoise
It
is

is

the symbol or representative

of the world,"

said that Bhunjia

women

are never

allowed to
consider

either on a footstool or a bed -cot, because

these are considered to be the seats of the deities.


disrespectful to

They

walk across the shadow of any it elderly person, or to step over the body of any human being If they do this inadvertor revered object on the ground.
ently, they apologise to the person or thing.
If

man

falls

from a
flesh of

tree he will offer a chicken to the tree-spirit.


tribe will eat pork, but abstain

The

from beef and the

s-

Social

monkeys.
will

Notwithstanding their strictness of social

observance, they rank lower than the Gonds, and only the

Kamars

accept food from their hands.

A man

who
to

has got maggots in a

wound

is

purified

by being given

drink water, mixed with powdered turmeric, in which silver and copper rings have been dipped. Women are secluded

during the menstrual period for as long as eight days, and during this time they may not enter the dwelling-hut nor touch any article belonging to it. The Bhunjias take their
^

Early History of J\Iaiiki)id,

p.

341.

328

BHUNJIA

PART

II

food on plates of leaves, and often a whole family will have

only one brass vessel, which will be reserved for production on the visit of a guest. But no strangers can be admitted to the house, and a separate hut is kept in the village for their use. Here they are given uncooked grain and pulse, which they prepare for themselves. When the women go out to work they do not leave their babies in the house, but carry them tied up in a small rag under the arm. They have no knowledge of medicine and are too timid to enter a Government dispensary. Their panacea for most diseases is branding the skin with a hot iron, which is employed indifferently for headache, pains in the stomach and rheumatism. Mr. Pyare Lai notes that one of his informants had recently been branded for rheumatism on both knees and said that he felt much relief.

BINJHWAR
list of
1.

paragraphs
5.

2.

3.
4.

Orlghi and tradition. Tribal subdivisions. Marriage.

Sexual morality.
Disposal of the dead.
Religiofi.

6. 7. 8.

The marriage

ceremojiy.
9.

Festivals.

Social customs.

tribe, or caste

Binjhwar,Binjhal.^ A comparatively civilised Dravidian formed from a tribe, found in the Raipur and In Bilaspur Districts and the adjoining Uriya country. 191 1 the Binjhwars numbered 60,000 persons in the
Central Provinces.

i.

Origin

^j'^jitjo^

There is little or no doubt that the Binjhwars are an offshoot of the primitive Baiga tribe of Mandla and Balaghat, who occupy the Satpura or Maikal In these hills to the north of the Chhattlsgarh plain. it is Districts a Binjhwar subdivision of the Baigas exists the most civilised and occupies the highest rank in the In Bhandara is found the Injhwar caste who are tribe. boatmen and cultivators. This caste is derived from the Binjhwar subdivision of the Baigas, and the name Injhwar is simply a corruption of Binjhwar. Neither the Binjhwars nor the Baigas are found except in the territories above mentioned, and it seems clear that the Binjhwars are a comparatively civilised section of the Baigas, who have They are in fact the landholding become a distinct caste.
;

section of the Baigas, like the

Raj-Gonds among the Gonds The zamlndars of Bodasamar, among Rampur, Bhatgaon and other estates to the south and east But owing of the Chhattlsgarh plain belong to this tribe.
and the Bhilalas
Bhils.
1 This article is based on a paper by Mr. Assistant Commissioner, Sambalpur.

Mian Bhai Abdul Hussain, Extra

329

330

BINJHWAR

part

change of name their connection with the parent The name Binjhwar is Baigas has now been forgotten. derived from the Vindhya hills, and the tribe still worship the goddess Vindhyabasini of these hills as their tutelary deity. They say that their ancestors migrated from Binjhakop to Lampa, which may be either Lamta in Balaghat or Laphagarh in Bilaspur. The hills of Mandla, the home of
to the

perhaps the most primitive Baigas, are quite close to the

Vindhya range. The tribe say that their original ancestors were Bdrah bhai betkdr, or the twelve Brother Archers. They were the sons of the goddess Vindhyabasini. One day they were out shooting and let off their arrows, which flew to the door of the great temple at Puri and stuck in it. Nobody in the place was able to pull them out, not even when the king's elephants were brought and harnessed to and drew them till at length the brothers arrived them
;

forth

quite

easily with their hands,


their
feat

pleased
estates

with

which

their

he descendants
that

gave

and the king was so them the several


hold.

now

The

story

According to Arthur and the magic sword. another legend the mother of the first Raja of Patna, a Chauhan Rajput, had fled from northern India to Sambalpur after her husband and relations had been killed in battle. She took refuge in a Binjhwar's hut and bore a son who became Raja of Patna and in reward for the protection afforded to his mother he gave the Binjhwar the Bodasamar estate, requiring only of him and his descendants the tribute and this has of a silk cloth on accession to the zamindari been rendered ever since by the zamlndars of Bodasamar It is further to the Rajas of Patna as a mark of fealty.
recalls that of
;

stated that the twelve archers

when they

fired

the

memor;

able arrows in the forest were in pursuit of a wild boar

and the landholding

class

of Binjhwars

are called Bariha

from bdrdh, a boar. As is only fitting, the Binjhwars have their cattle taken the arrow as their tribal symbol or mark Binjhwars sign it in place are branded with it, and illiterate found for a girl she If a husband cannot be of their name. At a Binjhwar wedding is sometimes married to an arrow. an arrow is laid on the trunk of mahua ^ which forms the
;

Bassia

latifolia.

II

TRIBAL SUBDIVISIONS
it

331

marriage-post, and honours are paid to

as representing the

bridegroom.

have four subdivisions, the Binjhwars proper, The Sonjharas consist of those who took to washing for gold in the sands of the Mahanadi, and it may be noted that a separate caste of Sonjharas is also in existence in this locality besides the Binjhwar group. The Birjhias are those who practised
tribe

The

a.

Tribal

the Sonjharas, the Birjhias and the Binjhias.

jl^j'sions

bezvar or shifting cultivation in the forests, the

name being
Binjhia

derived from beivarjia, one living by bewar-^o'wmg.


is

simply a diminutive form of Binjhwar, but in Bilaspur The zamlndar it is sometimes regarded as a separate caste. of Bhatgaon belongs to this group. The tribe have also exogamous divisions, the names of which are of a diverse character, and on being scrutinised show a mixture of foreign blood. Among totemistic names are Bagh, a tiger Pod, a buffalo Kamalia, the lotus flower Panknali, the watercrow Tar, the date-palm Jal, a net, and others. Some of the sections are nicknames, as Udhar, a debtor Marai Meli Bagh, one who carried a dead tiger Ultum, a talker Jalia, a liar Kessal, one who has shaved a man, and so on. Several are the names of other castes, as Lobar, Dudh Kawaria,
; ; ; ; ;
; ;

Banka and Majhi, indicating that members of these castes have become Binjhwars and have founded families. The sept names also differ in different localities the Birjhia subtribe who live in the same country as the Mundas have several Munda names among their septs, as Munna, Son, Solai while the Binjhwars who are neighbours of the Gonds have Gond sept names, as Tekam, Sonwani, and
Bhil,
;

others.

This indicates that there has been a considerable


tribes, as
is

amount of intermarriage with the surrounding


the case generally
in Chhattlsgarh.

among

the lower classes of the population


if

Even now

woman

of

any caste from

whom
remain

the Binjhwars will take water to drink forms a conin

man of the tribe, though she herself must an irregular position, her children will be considered as full members of it. The Barhias or landowning group have now adopted names of Sanskrit formation, as Gajendra, an elephant, Rameswar, the god Rama, and Nageshwar, the
nection with a

cobra deity.

Two

of their septs are

named Lobar

(black-

332

BINJHWAR
and Kumhar
(potter),

part

smith)

and may be derived from who became Binjhvvars or from members who took the occupations. At a Binjhwar Binjhwars up
of these castes

3.

Mar-

riage.

wedding the presence of a person belonging to each of the Lobar and Kumhar septs is essential, the reason being probably the estimation in which the two handicrafts were held when the Binjhwars first learnt them from their Hindu neighbours. In Sambalpur there appears to be no system of exogamous groups, and marriage is determined simply by
of agnates is avoided as long as be traced between them, but on the Marriage mother's side all except first cousins may marry. is usually adult, and girls are sometimes allowed to choose
relationship.

The union
can

the

connection

their

own husbands.
lbs.)

bride-price of about eight kJiandis


rice
is

(1400

of unhusked

paid.

The ceremony

is

performed at the bridegroom's house, to which the bride proceeds after bidding farewell to her family and friends in Weddings are avoided during the four a fit of weeping. months of the rainy season, and in Chait (March) because it is inauspicious, Jeth (May) because it is too hot, and Pus (December) because it is the last month of the year among the Binjhwars. The marriage ceremony should begin on a Sunday, when the guests are welcomed and their feet washed.

On Monday
the

the formal

reception of the bride takes place,

Gandsan or scenting ceremony follows on Tuesday, and At the scenting on Wednesday is the actual wedding. married girls dressed in new clothes dyed ceremony seven
yellow with turmeric conduct the
central post
;

bridegroom round the

4.

The

marriage ceremony.

one holds a dish containing rice, mango leaves, myrobalans and betel-nuts, and a second sprinkles water At each round the bridegroom is made from a small pot. to throw some of the condiments from the dish on to the wedding-post, and after the seven rounds he is seated and is rubbed with oil and turmeric. Among the Birjhias a trunk of mahua with two branches is jg ercctcd and on this a dagger in the marriacre-shed, '^^ placed in a winnowing-fan filled with rice, the former repreThe bride senting the bridegroom and the latter the bride. first goes round the post seven times alone, and then the A bridegroom, and after this they go round it together.
_

II

THE MAR RfAGE CEREMONY

333

ploui^h is brou;^ht and they stand upon the yoke, and seven cups of water havini^ been collected from seven different houses, four arc poured over the brider,froom and three over the bride. Some men climb on to the top of the shed and pour pots of water down on to the couple. This is now said to be done only as a joke. Next morninj^ two strong men take the bridegroom and bride, who are usually grown

up, on their backs, and the parties pelt each other with unhusked rice. Then the bridegroom holds the bride in his arms from behind and they stand facing the sun, while some old man ties round their feet a thread specially spun by a virgin. The couple stand for some time and then fall to the ground as if dazzled by his rays, when water is again

poured over their bodies to revive them. Lastly, an old man takes the arrow from the top of the marriage-post and draws three lines with it on the ground to represent the

Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and the bridegroom jumps over these holding the bride in his arms. The couple go to bathe in a river or tank, and on the way home the bridegroom shoots seven arrows at an image of a sambhar
deer
his

made with
cloth
lies

straw.

At

the seventh shot the bride's

brother takes the arrow, and running

away and hiding


of the

it

in

down

at

the entrance
to

bridegroom's

house.

The couple go up
his

him, and the

bridegroom

examines
he
to

body with

suspicion, pretending to think that

is dead. He draws the arrow out of his cloth and points some blood which has been previously sprinkled on the ground. After a time the boy gets up and receives some

This procedure may perhaps be a as a reward. symbolic survival of marriage by capture, the bridegroom
liquor
killing the
bride's

brother before carrying her

off,

or

more

probably, perhaps, the boy

some of the wilder


the
girl

may represent a dead deer. In tracts the man actually waylays and seizes

before the wedding, the occasion being previously

women of her family trying to prevent he succeeds in carrying her off they stay for three or four days in the forest and then return and are married. If a Binjhwar girl is seduced and rendered pregnant by a man of the tribe, the people exact a feast and compel them to join their hands in an informal manner before the
determined, and the
him.
If

5.

Sexual

'"'"^i''y-

334

BINJHWAR

part

committee, the tie thus formed being considered as Polygamy is permitted indissoluble as a formal marriage. zamindar marries a new wife, who is known as a Binjhvvar
caste
;

6.

Disposal

of the

7.

Reii-

gioti.

Pat Rani, to celebrate his accession to his estates, even though he may have five or six already. Divorce is recognised but is not very common, and a married woman having an intrigue with another Binjhwar is often simply made over to him and they live as husband If this man does not wish to take her she can and wife. live with any other, conjugal morality being very loose in In Bodasamar a fine of from one to ten rupees Sambalpur. is payable to the zamindar in the case of each divorce, and a feast must also be given to the caste-fellows. The tribe usually bury the dead, and on the third day they place on the grave some uncooked rice and a lighted As soon as an insect flies to the lamp they catch it, lamp. and placing it in a cake of flour carry this to a stream, It where it is worshipped with an offering of coloured rice. is then thrust into the sand or mud in the bed of the stream This ceremony is called Kharpani or with a grass broom. Grass and Water,' and appears to be a method of disposing It is not performed at all for of the dead man's spirit. young children, while, on the other hand, in the case of respected elders a second ceremony is carried out of the same nature, being known as Badapani or Great Water.' On this occasion the jivn or soul is worshipped with greater Except in the case of wicked souls, who are pomp. supposed to become malignant ghosts, the Binjhwars do not seem to have any definite belief in a future life. They say, Je maris te saris', or That which is dead is rotten and gone.' The tribe worship the common village deities of Chhattlsgarh, and extend their veneration to Bura Deo, the They venerate their daggers, principal god of the Gonds. spears and arrows on the day of Dasahra, and every third year their tutelary goddess Vindhyabasini is carried in proMr. Mian Bhai gives the cession from village to village. following list of precepts as forming the Binjhwar's moral Not to commit adultery outside the caste not to code not to steal not to swear falsely eat beef not to murder The tribe have gurus or before the caste committee.
'

'

'

ir

FESTIVALSSOCIAL CUSTOMS

335

spiritual preceptors,

whom

he describes as the most itinerant


impostors.

Bairagis, very Httle better than


girl

When

a b(jy or

grows up the Bairagi comes and whispers the Karn mnntra or spell in his ear, also hanging a necklace of iulsi (basil) beads round his neck for this the guru receives a cloth, a cocoanut and a cash payment of four annas to a Thereafter he visits his disciples annually at harvest rupee. time and receives a present of grain from them. On the iith of Bhadon (August) the tribe celebrate the karma festival, which is something like May-Day or a The youths and maidens go to the forest harvest feast. and bring home a young karma tree, singing, dancing and Offerings are made to the tree, and then beating drums. the whole village, young and old, drink and dance round it Next morning the tree is taken to all through the night. the nearest stream or tank and consigned to it. After this the young girls of five or six villages make up a party and go about to the different villages accompanied by drummers and Ganda musicians. They are entertained for the night, and next morning dance for five or six hours in the village and then go on to another. The tribe are indiscriminate in their diet, which includes pork, snakes, rats, and even carnivorous animals, as panthers. They refuse only beef, monkeys and the leavings of others. The wilder Binjhwars of the forests will not accept cooked food from any other caste, but those who live in association with Hindus will take it when cooked without water from a The tribe are not considered as few of the higher ones. Their dress is very simple, consisting as a rule impure. white piece of cloth in the case of both only of one dirty men and women. Their hair is unkempt, and they neither oil A genuine Binjhwar of the hills wears long nor comb it. frizzled hair with long beard and moustaches, but in the open country they cut their hair and shave the chin. Every Binjhwar woman is tattooed either before, or just after her marriage, when she has attained to the age of adolescence. A man will not touch or accept food from a woman who is not tattooed on the feet. The expenses must be paid either by the woman's parents or her brothers and not by her husband. The practice is carried to an extreme, and many
;

8.

Festi-

^^^'

9.

Social

^'^'^''^^-

336

BINJHWAR
up
to

part

ii

women have

the upper part of the chest, the arms from the knee

shoulder to wrist, and the feet and legs

covered with devices.

On

the chest and arms the patterns

are in the shape of flowers and leaves, while along the leg a

succession of zigzag lines are pricked.


usually cultivators

The Binjhwars

are

and labourers, while, as already stated, several zamlndari and other estates are owned by members
of the tribe.

Jhankar or

Binjhwars also commonly hold the office of of the village gods in the Sambalpur District, as the Baigas do in Mandla and Balaghat. In
priest

Sambalpur the Jhankar


is

or village priest

is

a universal and

His business conduct the worship of the local deities of the soil, crops, forests and hills, and he generally has a substantial
recognised village servant of fairly high status.
to

holding, rent
village.

free,

containing some of the best land in the


locally that the

It is said

Jhankar

is

looked on as

the founder of the village, and the representative of the old

worships on he naturally possesses a more intimate acquaintance than the later immigrants while the gods of these latter cannot be relied on to exercise a sufficient control over the works of nature in the foreign land to which they have been imported, or to ensure that the earth and the seasons will regularly perform their necessary functions in producing sustenance for mankind.
their behalf the indigenous deities, with
;

owners who were ousted by the Hindus.

He whom

BISHNOI
LIST OF
1

PARAGRAPHS
5
.

Origin of the

sect.

2.
3.

Precepts of fhambdji.

6.

Nature of the sect. Bishnois in the Cetttral Provijices.

Customs of the Bishnois in the


Punjab.
7.

4.

Marriage. 8. Disposal of the dead. Initiation and baptism. 9. Developnieftt into a caste.

Bishnoi.^

a caste.

The
are

sect

Hindu sect which has now developed was founded in the Punjab, and
from
northern
India.

into

i.

Origin

the

"'^ ^^^'^ ^^'^'^

Bishnois

immigrants

In

the

Central Provinces they numbered

about iioo persons in 191 I, nearly all of whom belonged to the Hoshangabad District. The best description of the sect is contained in Mr. Wilson's Sij'sa Settlement Report (quoted in Sir E. Maclagan's Census Report of the Punjab for 1 891), from which the following details are taken " The name Bishnoi
:

means a worshipper of Vishnu. The founder of the sect was a Panwar Rajput named Jhambaji, who was born in His father had a village of Bikaner State in A.D. 145 i. oppressed by greatly hitherto remained childless, and being Muhammadan this misfortune had been promised a son by a Fakir. After nine months Jhambaji was born and showed his miraculous origin in various ways, such as producing
sweets from nothing for the delectation of his companions.
Until he was thirty-four years old he spoke no word and At this time a was employed in tending his father's cattle. Brahman was sent for to get him to speak, and on confessing his failure, Jhambaji showed his power by lighting a
^ This article is compiled from Mr. Wilson's account of the Bishnois as reproduced in Mr. Crooke's Tribes and

Castes,

and from notes taken by Mr.


in the

Aduram Chaudhri
District.

Hoshangabad

VOL.

II

337

338

BISHNOI

part

lamp with a snap of


hill

He his fingers and spoke his first word. adopted the Hfe of a teacher and went to reside on a sandsome thirty miles south of Bikaner. In 1485 a fearfamine desolated the country, and Jhambaji gained an enormous number of disciples by providing food for all who He is said to have died would declare their belief in him. on his sandhill at the good old age of eighty-four, and to A have been buried at a spot about a mile distant from it. further account says that his body remained suspended for His name six months in the bier without decomposing. (The Wonder), was a contraction of Achambha Jhambaji
ful

2.

Precepts

o^jham-

with the honorific suffix ji. " The sayings {shabd) of Jhambaji, to the number of one hundred and twenty, were recorded by his disciples, and

have been handed down in a book {pothi) which is written in the Nagari character, and in a Hindu dialect similar to The Bagri and therefore probably a dialect of Rajasthani. following is a translation of the twenty-nine precepts given For thirty days by him for the guidance of his followers after childbirth and five days after a menstrual discharge Bathe in the morning. a woman must not cook food. Be content. Be abstemious and Commit no adultery. Strain your drinking-water. Be careful of your pure. Examine your fuel in case any living creature be speech. Show pity to living creatures. Keep duty burnt with it. present to your mind as the teacher bade. Do not steal. Do not speak evil of others. Do not tell lies. Never Avoid opium, tobacco, bhang and blue clothing. quarrel. See that your goats are kept Flee from spirits and flesh. alive (not sold to Musalmans, who will kill them for food). Do not plough with bullocks. Keep a fast on the day Do not cut green trees. Sacrifice before the new moon. Perform worship and with fire. Say prayers meditate. attain heaven.' And the last of the twenty-nine duties preBaptise your children if you would scribed by the teacher
' :

^ be called a true Bishnoi.' " Some of these precepts are not strictly obeyed.

For

' The total number of precepts as given above is only twenty-five, but can be raised to twenty-nine by counting

the prohibition of opium, tobacco, bhang, blue clothing, spirits and flesh
separately.

II

CUSTOMS OF
though

TIfE

BISHNOIS !N THE PUNJAIl


they allow no
is

339

instance,

ordinarily
if
;

blue
is

in

their

3-

Customs

clothing, yet a Bishnoi,

he

a police constable,

allowed

wear a blue uniform and Bishnois do use bullocks, They though most of their farming is done with camels. also seem to be generally quarrelsome (in words) and given to But they abstain from tobacco, drugs use bad language. and spirits, and are noted for their regard for animal life, which is such that not only will they not themselves kill any living creature, but they do their utmost to prevent others Consequently their villages are generally from doing so. swarming with antelope and other animals, and they forbid their Musalman neighbours to kill them, and try to dissuade They European sportsmen from interfering with them. wanted to make it a condition of their settlement that no one should be allowed to shoot on their land, but at the same time they asked that they might be assessed at lower rates than their neighbours, on the ground that the antelope,
to

^jshnois j the Punjab.

being thus
but
I

left

undisturbed, did
this

more damage

to their crops

told

them that

their actions in

would lessen the merit (^pun) of protecting the animals, and they must be

treated just as the surrounding villages were.


it

They

consider

a good deed to scatter grain to pigeons and other birds,

and often have a large number of half- tame birds about villages. The day before the new moon (Amawas) they observe as a Sabbath and fast-day, doing no work in the fields or in the house. They bathe and pray three times a day, in the morning, afternoon and evening, saying Bishnu Ram.' Their Bishnu instead of the ordinary Hindu Ram clothing is the same as that of other Bagris, except that their women do not allow the waist to be seen, and are fond of wearing black woollen clothing. They are more particular about ceremonial purity than ordinary Hindus are, and it is a common saying that if a Bishnoi's food is on the first of a string of twenty camels and a man of another caste touches the last camel of the string, the Bishnoi would consider his food defiled and throw it away." The ceremony of initiation is as follows " A number of representative Bishnois assemble, and before them a Sadh
their
'
!

'

'

4-

Initia-

^apti^m

or

Bishnoi

priest,

after
in

lighting

sacrificial

fire

{/win),

instructs the novice

the duties of the faith.

He

then

340

BISHNOT
some water
a set

in a new earthen vessel, over which he {BisJino gdyatri), stirring it the while form prays in {indld), and after asking the consent of beads with his string Bishnois he pours the water three times of the assembled The into the hands of the novice, who drinks it off. novice's scalp-lock {choti) is then cut off and his head shaved, for the Bishnois shave the whole head and do not leave a scalp-lock like the Hindus, but they allow the beard to Infant grow, only shaving the chin on the father's death. baptism is also practised, and thirty days after birth the child, whether boy or girl, is baptised by the priest (Sadh) only the set form of in much the same way as an adult prayer is different, and the priest pours a few drops of water into the child's mouth, and gives the child's relatives each at the three handfuls of the consecrated water to drink The same time the barber clips off the child's hair.

takes

baptismal ceremony has the effect of purifying the house,

which has been made impure by the birth {sutak). " The Bishnois do not revere Brahmans, but have priests of their own known as Sadh, who are chosen from among The priests are a hereditary class, and do not the laity. intermarry with other Bishnois, from whom, like Brahmans, The Bishnois do not burn they receive food and offerings. their dead, but bury them below the cattle-shed or in some They make pilgrimplace like a pen frequented by cattle. ages to the place where Jhambaji is buried to the south of Bikaner here a tomb and temple have been erected to his memory, and gatherings are held twice a year. The sect observe the Holi in a different way from other Hindus. After sunset on that day they fast till the next forenoon when, after hearing read the account of how Prahlad was tortured by his infidel father, Hrianya Kasipu, for believing in the god Vishnu, until he was delivered by the god himself in his incarnation of Narsingh, the Man-lion, and mourning
;

over

Prahlad's

sufferings,

they light a

sacrificial

fire

and
fire

partake of consecrated water, and after distributing sugar


i^gur) in

commemoration of Prahlad's delivery from the

into which he
5.

Nature

of the sect.

was thrown, they break their fast." The abovc interesting account of the Bishnois by Mr. WilsoH shows that Jhambaji was a religious reformer, who

II

NATURE OF THE SECT

341

attempted to break loose from the debased Hindu polytlieism and arrogant supremacy of the Brahmans by choosing one god, Vishnu, out of the Hindu pantheon and exalting him into the sole and supreme deity. In his method he thus differed

from Kablr and other reformers, who went outside Hinduism


altogether, preaching a monotheistic faith with one unseen

and nameless deity. The case of the Manbhaos, whose unknown founder made Krishna the one god, discarding the

Vedas and the rest of Hinduism, is analogous to Jhambaji's movement. His creed much resembles that of the other Hindu reformers and founders of the Vaishnavite sects. The extreme tenderness for animal life is a characteristic of most of them, and would be fostered by the Hindu belief
in
is

the transmigration of souls.

The

prohibition of liquor

which Jhambaji added that of all kinds of drugs. His mind, like those of Kablr and Nanak, was probably influenced by the spectacle of the comparatively liberal creed of Islam, which had now taken root in northern India. Mr. Crooke remarks that the Bishnois of Bijnor appear to differ from those of the Punjab
another
feature, to

common

Muhammadan form of salutation, Saldm alaikum, and the title of Shaikhji. They account for this by saying they murdered a Muhammadan Kazi, who prevented them from burning a widow, and were glad to compound the But it seems offence by pretending to adopt Islam. possible that on their first rupture with Hinduism they were to some extent drawn towards the Muhammadans, and adopted practices of which, on tending again to conform to their old religion, they have subsequently become ashamed.
in using the

In northern India the

members

of different castes

who

6.

Bishnois

have become Bishnois have formed separate endogamous among these are groups, of which Mr. Crooke gives nine the Brahman, Bania, Jat, Sunar, Ahir and Nai Bishnois. Only members of comparatively good castes appear to have been admitted into the community, and in the Punjab they
;

^q^^^^^t^

Provinces,

are nearly

all

Jats

and Banias.

In the Central Provinces

endogamous group. They have gotras or exogamous sections, the names of which appear
the caste forms only one
to be of the titular or territorial type.

Some

of the gotras.

342

BISHNOI

PART

Jhuria,

Ajna, Sain and Ahir/ are considered to be lower than the others, and though they are not debarred from intermarriage, a connection with them is looked upon as

something of a

inesallia7ice.

They

settlement of tribal disputes.

No

are not consulted in the explanation of the comis

paratively degraded position of these septs

forthcoming,

probably be attributed to some blot in their The Bishnois celebrate their marriages ancestral escutcheon.
but
at
it

may

any period of the year, and place no reliance on astrology. According to their saying, " Every day is as good as The Sankrant," every day is as good as Amawas.^ Ganges flows every day, and he whose preceptor has taught him the most truth will get the most good from
bathing in Before
it."

7.

Mar-

riage.

barber, a cocoanut

wedding the bride's father sends, by the and a silver ring tied round it with a

yellow thread.
thirteen

On

the thread are seven, nine, eleven or

the number of days to elapse The barber on his arrival stands ceremony. outside the door of the house, and the bridegroom's father The men go sends round to all the families of his caste. to the house and the women come singing to the barber, A married woman touches and rub turmeric on the boy. the cocoanut and waves a lighted lamp seven times round This is meant to scare off evil the bridegroom's head. bride's village the bridegroom at the arrival spirits. On with the branch of a ber or wild touches the marriage-shed plum tree. The mother of the bride gives him some sugar, The bride rubs lamp-black on his eyes and twists his nose. and bridegroom are seated side by side on wooden boards, and after the caste priest (Sadh) has chanted some sacred verses, water is poured nine times on to the palms of the They do not perform the bridegroom, and he drinks it. Girls are ceremony of walking round the sacred pole. usually married at a very early age, sometimes when they Subsequently, when the brideare only a few months old.
knots, signifying

before

the

1 Jhuria may be Jharia, jungly ; Sain a term applied to beggars ; the Ahir or herdsman sept may be descended from a man of this caste who became

is

- The day when the sun passes from one zodiacal sign into another,

"^

The New Moon day

or the

day

a Bishnoi.

before.

II

DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD

343

groom comes
favour

to take his bride, her family present her with


still

clothing and a spinning-wheel, this implement being

in

among
is

the Bishnois.

When

widow

is

to be married

again she

taken to her new husband's house at night, and

there grinds a flour-mill five times, being afterwards presented

with lac bangles.

The dead are never burnt, but their bodies are weighted The practice with sand-bags and thrown into a stream. which formerly prevailed among the Bishnois of burying
their

8.

Disposal

^g^^

dead

in the

courtyard of the house by the cattle-stalls

has

now
is

fallen

into desuetude as being insanitary.

red

cloth spread over the body of a woman, and if her maternal relatives are present each of them places a piece After the funeral the mourning party of cloth on the bier. proceed to a river to bathe, and then cook and eat their food on the bank. This custom is also followed by the Panwar Rajputs of the Wainganga Valley, but is forbidden by most of the good Hindu castes. No period of impurity is observed after a death, but on some day between the fourth and tenth days afterwards a feast is given to the castefellows.

The
times
of

Bishnois of the

Central

Provinces are

gradually

becoming an ordinary Hindu


befallen

caste, a fate

which has several


reformers.

Deveiop c"ste"
9.

the adherents of

Hindu

Many
still

the

precepts
strain

of Jhambaji

are

neglected.

They

water and examine their fuel before burning it to remove insects, and they scatter flour to feed The wearing the ants and grain for peacocks and pigeons. of blue cloth is avoided by most, blue being for an obscure
usually
their

reason a somewhat unlucky colour

among

the Hindus.

But

they

now

use bullocks for ploughing, and cut green trees

except on the

Amawas day. Many of them, especially the younger generation, have begun to grow the Hindu cJioti or scalp-lock. They go on pilgrimage to all the Hindu sacred places, and no doubt make presents there to Brahman priests. They o^&x pindas or sacrificial cakes to the spirits of their
They observe some of the ordinary Hindu festivals, as the Anant Chaturthi, arid some of them employ Brahmans to read the Satya Narayan Katha, the favourite Hindu sacred book. They still retain their special
deceased ancestors.

344

BISHNOI
The admission

part

ii

observance of the Holi,


practically ceased,

of proselytes has

and they marry among themselves like an ordinary Hindu caste, in which light they are gradually coming to be regarded. The Bishnois are usually cultivators or moneylenders by calling.

BOHRA
LIST OF
1.

PARAGRAPHS
4.
5.

2. 3.

Origin of the sect. Their religious tenets. The Mullahs.


7.

BoJira graveyards.

Religious custotns.
Occupatio7i.

6.

Houses and

dress.

A Muhammadan caste of traders who Bohra, Bohora.^ come from Gujarat and speak Gujarati. At the last census they numbered nearly 5000 persons, residing principally in the Nimar, Nagpur and Amraoti Districts, Burhanpur being The the headquarters of the sect in the Central Provinces. name is probably derived from the Hindi byoJidra, a trader. Members of the caste are honorifically addressed as Mullaji.
According
in

i.

Origin esect. '

to the received account of the rise of the

Bohras
to

Gujarat

missionary, Abdulla,

came from Yemen

Cambay in A.D. 1067. By his miracles he converted the great king Sidhraj of Anhilvada Patan in Gujarat, and he
For with numbers of his subjects embraced the new faith. two centuries and a half the Bohras flourished, but with the
establishment of Muzaffar Shah's power (A.D.
in that
1

390-141

3)

country the spread of Sunni doctrines was encouraged and the Bohra and other Shia sects suppressed. Since then, with gradually lessening numbers, they have passed through several bitter persecutions, meeting with little favour or protection, till at the close of the eighteenth century they

found shelter under British rule. In 1539 the members of the sect living in Arabia were expelled from there and came to Gujarat, where they were hospitably received by their brethren, the headquarters of the sect being thenceforward
^ This article is largely based on Mr. F. L. Farldi's full description of

Muhammadans

the

sect

in

the

Bombay

Gazetteer,

of Gujarat, and on a paper by Mr. Habib Ullah, pleader, Burhanpur.

345

346

BOHRA

The Bohras are Shias of the great IsmaiHa Egypt. The IsmaiHa sect split off from the orthodox Shias on the question of the succession to the sixth Imam, The dispute was between his Jafar Sadik, in A.D. 765. eldest son's son Ismail and his second son Musi, the Ismailias being those who supported the former and the orthodox Shias the latter. The orthodox Shias are distinguished as believers in twelve Imams, the last of whom is still to come. The Ismailias again divided on a similar dispute as to the succession to the Khalifa Almustansir Billah by his eldest son Nazar or his younger son Almustaali. The Bohras are descended from the Mustaalians or supporters of the younger son and the Khojas from the Nazarians who supported the elder son.^ All these distinctions appear
fixed at Surat.
sect of

somewhat

trivial.
:

Gujarat contains two classes of Bohras the traders who are all Shias and are the only immigrants into the Central Provinces, and a large class of cultivating Bohras who are
Sunnis.
this sect

The

forced to become Sunnis when was dominant in Gujarat as noticed above, while the Shias are perhaps descended from the later immigrants from Arabia. The Shia Bohras themselves are further divided into several sects of which the Daudi are the principal. Mr. Farldi writes of them ' " They are attentive to their religious duties, both men and women knowing the

converts and

latter may be may have been

the descendants of the earliest

Koran. They are careful to say their Muharram as a season of mourning and They strictly to Mecca and Kerbala.

prayers, to observe
to

go on pilgrimage
in

abstain from music


intoxicating

and dancing
drinks

and from

using

or

dealing

or drugs.

Though

fierce

sectarians, keenly hating

and hated by the regular Sunnis and other Muhammadans than those of their own sect, their reverence for Ali and for their high priest seems to be further removed from adoration than among the Khojahs. They would appear to accept the ordinary distinctions of right and wrong, punishing drunkenness, adultery and other acts generally considered
^

Bombay

Gazetteer,

AInhammadans

the Bohras were true


Ismailias.
2

Shias and not

Sir H. T. Coleof Gujarat, p. 30. brooke and Mr. Conolly thought that

Ibidem, pp. 30-32.

11

THE MULLAHS
Of
spirits,

347

disgraceful.

the state beyond death they hold that, after

passing a time of freedom as evil


place of torment.

unbelievers go to a

Believers, but apparently only believers

of the

Ismaili faith, after a term of training enter a state of

perfection.

Among

the

faithful

each

disembodied

spirit

passes the term of training in

communion with

the soul of

some good man.


the

The

spirit

man and may


;

learn from his

can suggest good or evil to good deeds to love the

right

when the good man


are,
if

dies the spirits in

communion

with his soul

they have gained by their training,

if they have lost by back to learn spirits raised to a higher degree of knowledge are placed in communion with the High Priest on earth and on his death are with him united to the Imams, and when through the Imams they have learnt what they still require to know they are absorbed

attached to some more perfect man, or

their opportunities are sent

in perfection.

Except

for

some

peculiarities in their

names
;

that they attach special importance to circumcision

that

the sacrifice or alsikah

ceremony
the

is

held in

the

Mullah's

house

that at marriage

bride and bridegroom


;

when

not of age are represented by sponsors or ivalis

that at

death a prayer for pity on his soul and body is laid in the dead man's hands and that on certain occasions the High Priest feeds the whole community Bohra customs do not so far as has been ascertained differ from those of ordinary
;

Muhammadans.
Their leader, both in things religious and social, is the head Mullah of Surat. The ruling Mullah names his successor, generally, but it is said not always, from among the members of his own family. Short of worship the head Mullah is treated with the greatest respect. He lives in much state and entertains with the most profuse liberality. On both religious and civil questions his authority is final. Discipline is enforced in religious matters by fine, and in case of adultery, drunkenness and other offences, by fine, excommunication and rarely by flogging. On ceremonial occasions the head Mullah sits on his throne, and in token
of his
"
3.

The

^^"^^^^'

power has the

flyflapper, chauri, held before him.

As

the Bohras enter they


their

make

three prostrations, salaams^ close

hands and stand before him.

To

such as are worthy

348

BOHRA
'

part Stand.'

he says
the
1

Be

seated,' to others

'

Once

a year, on

8th Rajjab, every Daudi lays his palm within the head Mullah's hand and takes an oath to be faithful. On this day when he goes to the mosque the Bohras are said to kiss
their

the Mullah's footsteps and to apply the dust he treads to


sect has a
4.

heads and eyes." Each considerable settlement of the deputy Mullah of its own.
the

Bohra

graveyards,

or burial-place of the Bohras at Burhanpur tombs of three of the Surat Mullahs who happened to die when they were at Burhanpur. The tombs are in shell-lime and are fairly handsome erections. The Bohras support here by voluntary subscription a rest-house, where members of the sect coming to the city can obtain free board and lodging for as long as they like to stay. Mr.

Thc Sahadra

contains

Conolly says of their graveyards ^ " Their burial-grounds have a pleasing appearance, the tombs being regularly arranged in streets, east and west.
:

The tombs

themselves, which are, of course, north and south,


its

the corpse resting on

right side, differ in

no respect from

those of Sunnis, with the exception of a small chirdgh takia


or lamp-socket, cut out of the north face, just like the cavity
for the inscription of
5.

Reii-

gious customs.

own tombs." Mr. Kitts writes - "In prayers they differ both from Shias and Sunnis in that they ' follow their Mullah, praying aloud after him, but without much regularity of posture. The times for commencing their devotions are about five minutes later than those observed by Sunnis. After the midday and sunset supplications they allow a
our

Of

their religion

short interval to elapse, remaining themselves in the

mosque

meanwhile.

They then commence

the afternoon and even-

ing prayers and thus run

five services into three."

Mr. Thurston notes that the Bohras consider themselves so superior to other sects that if another Muhammadan enters their mosque they afterwards clean the spot which he has occupied during his prayers.^ They show strictness in other ways, making their own sweetmeats at home and
declining to eat those of the Halwai (confectioner).
"^

It is said

J.A.S.B.

vol.

vi.

(1837), part
( 1

ii.

Cas/es
art.

and
Bohra.

Tribes

of Southern

p.

847.
'^

India, 81
8), p. 70.

Berar Census Report

II

RI'.LR'.IOUS

CUSTOMS

349

also that they will not have their clothes

washed by a Dhobi,

nor wear shoes

any Hindu. some of them not on every Friday. If a dog touches them they are unclean and must change their clothes. They celebrate the Id and Ramazan a day before other Muhammadans.

made by a Chamar, nor take food touched by They are said to bathe only on Fridays, and

At

the

bangles and wear

Muharram their women break new bangles next day to show

all

their

that they

have been widowed, and during this period they observe mourning by going without shoes and not using umbrellas. Mr. Conolly says of them " I must not omit to notice that a fine of 20 cowries (equally for rich and poor) punishes the non-attendance of a Bohra at the daily prayers. A large sum is exacted for remissness during the Ramazan, and it is
:

said that the dread of loss operates powerfully

upon a

class

of

men who

are
is

particularly

penny -wise.

The money

transmitted by the Ujjain Mullah to his chief at Surat, who devotes it to religious purposes such as
collected thus

repairing or building
subjects

and the

characteristic
etc.

But the

daily indulge

thus in their

mosques, assisting the needy of his Several other offences have the same punishment, such as fornication, drunkenness, cunning Bohras elude many of the fines and in practices not sanctioned by their creed shops pictures and figures may be purchased
like.
;

though
It

it

is

against the

commandments

to sell the likeness

of any living thing."

has been seen that when a Bohra

is

buried a prayer

for pity

on his soul and body is laid in the dead man's hands, But other Muhammadans of which Mr. Faridi gives the text. tell a story to the effect that the head Mullah writes a letter to the archangel Gabriel in which he is instructed to supply a stream of honey, a stream of milk, water and some fruit trees, a golden building and a number of houris, the extent of the order depending on the amount of money which has been paid to the Mullah by the departed in his lifetime and this letter is placed beneath the dead man's head in the The Bohras indignantly grave, the Bohras having no coffins. repudiate any such version of the letter, and no doubt if the custom ever existed it has died out. The Bohras, Captain Forsyth remarks, though bigoted

35
6.

BOHRA
most
civilised

Occupa- religionists, are certainly the


g^j^jj

and enterprising

tion.

perhaps also the most industrious class in the Nimar They deal generally in hardware, piece-goods and District. There is a proverb, " He drugs, and are very keen traders. who is sharper than a Bohra must be mad, and he who is Some of them are fairer than a Khatri must be a leper." only pedlars and hawkers, and in past times their position An old account seems to have been lower than at present.
says
:

"

merchants.

The Bohras are an inferior set The inside of a Bohra's box is


;

of

travelling

like that of

an

English country shop

spelling-books, prayer-books, lavender-

water, soap, tapes, scissors, knives, needles

and thread make


:

And again "In Bombay but a small part of the variety." the Bohras go about the town as the dirty Jews do in London early and late, carrying a bag and inviting by the same nasal
tone servants and others to bottles, scraps of iron, etc.""
7. Houses and dress,

fill

it

with old clothes, empty


^

Of

their

method of

living

Malcolm wrote

"

visited

several of the houses

of this tribe at

colony of them are settled, in their apartments, but in the spaciousness and cleanliness of their kitchens, in the well-constructed chimney, the neatly

Shahjahanpur, where a was gratified to find not only and

arranged pantries, and the polished dishes and plates as much of real comfort in domestic arrangements as could We took the parties we visited by be found anywhere. The surprise and there could have been no preparation." Bohras do not charge interest on loans, and they combine to support indigent members of the community, never

The caste may easily allowing one of their caste to beg. be known from other Muhammadans by their small, tightly wound turbans and little skull-caps, and their long flowing
robes,

and loose trousers widening from the ankle upwards and

The women dress gathered in at the waist with a string. in a coloured cotton or silk petticoat, a short-sleeved bodice and a coloured cotton head-scarf When they go out of doors they throw a dark cloak over the head which covers the body to the ankles, with gauze openings for the eyes.
1

art.
2

Crooke's edition of i/c;Z'j-^;/-y<5/;i(7, Bohra. Moor's ///(/ Infanticide, p. 168.

Memoir of Central

India,

ii.

p.

in.

BRAHMAN
LIST
caste.

OP^

PARAGRAPHS
13-

Origin mid development of the


Their monopoly of literature. Absence of central authority.

Mixed elements

in the caste.

Caste subdivisio7is. Miscellaneous groups.

Sectarian divisions.
8. g. 0.
1.

Exogamy.
Restrictions on marriage.

Hypergamy. Marriage customs.


Polygamy., divorce

1.

and

treat-

ment of widows.

1.

Ahivasi.
Jijhotia.

2.

3. 4.
5.

Kanaujia, Kanyakubja. Khedawal. Maharashtra, Maratha.


Maithil.

6.

352

BRAHMAN
3

part

nearly

per cent

of the

population.

This

is

less
is

than

the average strength for

India as a whole, which


is

about

4^ per
but
in
is

cent.
in

The

caste

greatest

numbers

in

spread over the whole Province, proportion to the population


in

Saugor and Jubbulpore, and weakest

the Feudatory

States.

The name Brahman


root brih or vrih, to

or

increase.

Brahma is said to be from the The god Brahma is con-

sidered as the spirit

essence and source of

and soul of the universe, the divine Brahmana, the masculine all being.

numerative singular, originally denoted one worshipper or the composer or reciter of a the common term used in the Vedas for Sir H. Risley remarks on the origin priest. " The best modern opinion seems disposed to
of the
priests

who

prays, a
It
is

hymn.^

the officiating
of the caste
find the
^
:

germ
Vedic

Brahman caste in who were attached

the bards, ministers and family


to the king's household in

times.

Different stages of this institution

may

be observed.

In the earliest ages the head of every


his

own

priest,

Aryan household was and even a king would himself perform the
his

sacrifices

which were appropriate to


or
guilds

rank.
arose,

families

of

priestly

singers

By degrees who sought

and were rewarded by rich presents for the hymns or praise and prayer recited and sacrifices As time went offered by them on behalf of their masters. on the sacrifices became more numerous and more elaborate, and the mass of ritual grew to such an extent that the king The employment of could no longer cope with it unaided.
service under the kings,

puroJdts or family priests, formerly optional, sacred duty


if

now became

the sacrifices were


a

not to

fall

into disuse.

The Brfdiman obtained


continually to close
siders."
its

monopoly of
specialists

priestly functions,

and a race of sacerdotal


Gradually then
it

arose

which tended

ranks against the intrusion of out-

from the household priests and


verses

those
recite

who made
generation

their business to

the sacred

hymns and
to

commit to memory and handed down orally


this

from
1

generation

through

agency,

an

Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. quoting Professor Eggoling in Encyclopcedia Britannica, s.v.

Brahmanism.
^ Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Braliman.

Brahman,

art.

II

TlIJ'llR

MONOl'OLV OF I.niiRATURK

353

occupational caste emerged, which arrogated to itself the monopoly of these functions, and the doctrine developed

nobody could perform them who was not qualified by is, nobody could be a Brahman who was not the son of a Brahman. When religious ritual became more important, as apparently it did, a desire would naturally arise among the priests to make their revered and lucrative and this they were easily profession a hereditary monopoly and naturally able to do by only teaching the sacred songs and the sacrificial rules and procedure to their own descendants. The process indeed would be to a considerable extent automatic, because the priests would always take their own sons for their pupils in the first place, and in the
that
birth, that
;

circumstances of early Indian society a married priesthood The would thus naturally evolve into a hereditary caste.
Levites

among

similar hereditary orders,

the Jews and the priests of the Parsis formed and the reason why they did not

arise in other great religions

would appear to have been the

prescription or encouragement of the rule of celibacy for

the clergy and

the
free.

admission was

foundation of monasteries, to which But the military landed aristocracies

of Europe practically formed hereditary castes which were analogous to the Brahman and Rajput castes, though of a
less

stereotyped and primitive character.


caste

The

rise

of the

was thus perhaps a comparatively simple and natural product of religious and social evolution, and might have occurred independently of the development of the caste system as a whole. The former might be accounted for by reasons which would be inadequate to explain the latter, even though as a matter of fact the same factors were at work in both cases. The hereditary monopoly of the sacred scriptures would 2. Their be strengthened and made absolute when the Sanskrit i"o"opoiy of literalanguage, in which they had been composed and handed ture. down, ceased to be the ordinary spoken language of the people. Nobody then' could learn them unless he was taught by a Brahman priest. And by keeping the sacred
literature
in

Brahman

an

unknown language

the

priesthood

made

and got into their own hands the allocation of the penalties and rewards promised
their

own

position absolutely secure

VOL.

II

354

BRAHMAN
religion, for

part

which these books were the authority, that Hindus in the afterlife. They, in fact, held the keys of heaven and hell. The jealousy with which they guarded them is well shown by " To the Brahmans alone belongs the Abbe Dubois right of reading the the Vedas, and they are so jealous of

by
is

to say, the disposal of the souls of

this,

or

rather

it

is

so

much

to their interest to prevent

other castes obtaining any insight into their contents, that


the
implicitly believed, that should

Brahmans have inculcated the absurd theory, which is anybody of any other caste

head

be so highly imprudent as even to read the title-page his would immediately split in two. The very few

are able to read those sacred books in the only do so in secret and in a whisper. Expulsion from caste, without the smallest hope of re-entering it, would be the lightest punishment of a Brahman who exposed those
original,

Brahmans who

books to the eyes of the profane." It would probably be however, to suppose that the Vedas were kept in the original Sanskrit simply from motives of policy. It was probably thought that the actual words of the sacred text had themselves a concrete force and potency which would be lost in a translation. This is the idea underlying the whole class of beliefs in the virtue of charms and spells. But the Brahmans had the monopoly not only of the sacred Sanskrit literature, but practically of any kind of They were for long the only literate literacy or education. section of the people. Subsequently two other castes learnt to read and write in response to an economic demand, the Kayasths and the Banias. The Kayasths, it has been suggested in the article on that caste, were to a large extent the offspring and inmates of the households of Brahmans, and were no doubt taught by them, but only to read and write the vernacular for the purpose of keeping the village records and accounts of rent. They were excluded from any knowledge of Sanskrit, and the Kayasths subsequently became an educated caste in spite of their Brahman preceptors, by learning Persian under their Muhammadan, The Banias and English under their European employers. never desired nor were encouraged to attain to any higher
unfair,
'

Hindu Manners^

Ciis/onis,

and

Ccretiionies, 3rd ed. p. 172.

II

AliSENCE OF CKNTRAL AUTHORITY

355

degree of literacy than that necessary for keeping accounts of sale and loan transactions. The Brahmans thus remained
the

only class

with

any

real

education,

and acquired a
leadership,

monopoly not only of

intellectual

and

religious

but largely of public administration under the Hindu kings. No literature cxi.sted outside their own, which was mainly

and India had no heritage such bequeathed by Greece and Rome to mediaeval Europe which could produce a Renaissance or revival of literacy, leading to the Reformation of religion and the breaking of the fetters in which the Roman priesthood had bound the human mind. The Brahmans thus established, not only a complete religious, but also a social ascendancy which is only now beginning to break down since the
of a sacerdotal character
as
;

that

Government has made education available to all. The Brahman body, however, lacked one very important They were apparently never organised clement of strength.
British

3-

Absence

authority.

nor controlled by any central authority such as that which made the Roman church so powerful and cohesive. Colleges and seats of learning existed at Benares and other places,

which their youth were trained in the knowledge of religion and of the measure of their own pretensions, and the means But probably only a by which these were to be sustained. small minority can have attended them, and even these when they returned home must have been left practically to themselves, spread as the Brahmans were over the whole of India with no means of postal communication or rapid And by this fact the chaotic character of the transit. Hindu religion, its freedom of belief and worship, its innumerable deities, and the almost complete absence of
at

dogmas may probably be to a great extent explained. And further the Brahman caste itself cannot have been so
strictly

organised

that

outsiders

and

the

priests

of
it.

the

lower alien

religions

never obtained entrance to

As

shown by Mr. Crooke, many foreign elements, both individuals and groups, have at various times been admitted
into the caste.

The

early

texts

indicate
.

that

Brahmans were

in
-'

the
-^

4.

Mixed

habit of forming connections with the widows of Raianyas and Vaishyas, even if they did not take possession of the

elements
the caste.

356

BRAHMAN
men
while they were
still

part
alive/

wives of such
as well as

of Angiras, one of the great ancestral sages, were

The sons Brahmans

Kshatriyas, The descendants of Garga, another well-known eponymous ancestor, were Kshatriyas by birth Visvamitra was a Kshatriya, who, but became Brahmans. by the force of his austerities, compelled Brahma to admit him into the Brahmanical order, so that he might be on a level with Vasishtha with whom he had quarrelled. According to a passage in the Mahabharata all castes become Brahmans